Every year, the performers at the Laramie Children’s Musical Theater Workshop (LCMTW) at Studio 253 put on a spring musical. On May 1, 2020, these performers were scheduled for an opening night performance of an original show about teen life. But, like most things in 2020, this plan promptly evaporated with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic persisted, LCMTC at Studio 253 was forced to discover the wonders of virtual performance spaces.
What started off as a live production had produced 17 pages of original script and a handful of songs. Deborah Kassner is the director of LCMTW at Studio 253. She said that she was left wondering what to do with the rest of the production.
“I sent them out to document their real-life experiences, and they started to submit thoughts and feelings,” Kassner said about the youth performers. By November 2020, they had a full-length show written about children’s’ experiences when the coronavirus pandemic hit, titled “Kids, Crushes, Corona: Tales from 2020.”
Because most of Kassner’s performers are between the ages of 10 and 14-years-old, the script and video largely shows this age group’s personal experience. The result of the project was a document that highlighted real life experiences of these young performers in the Laramie community. In many ways, it is a local, cultural artifact from a pivotal moment in history.
“Some of the things they came up with as their genuine selves were absolutely brilliant,” Kassner said. The pieces provided by the performers were then edited together by videographer, Kyriessa Lane. The shared experiences were both poignant and comical, and they are now available for public viewing via the Wyoming State Archives online COVID-19 Collection.
“At least I have movies, and no one I know is sick,” says one young performer in part of his monologue.
“I just want to start off by saying: I’m going crazy. I haven’t tried…cooking?” says another young person. She seems to be pondering whether to start up a new hobby in the thick of quarantine, which is such a relatable feeling. During widespread shutdowns, many people were searching for ways to keep busy and level-headed at a time when many of our normal distractions disappeared.
TO LEARN MORE
In addition to making the full hour-long video available to the public, Kassner has also made the script available for educators, theaters, and for the general public. All donations and proceed will go directly to the LCMTW scholarship fund, which provides tuition support to students in need of financial aid.
For more information on accessing the script and full-length production, contact Deborah Kassner at firstname.lastname@example.org or call LCMTW at Studio 253 at 307-920-1190.
ABOUT LCMTW at STUDIO 253
Laramie Children’s Musical Theater Workshop at Studio 253 has been providing private lessons, acting classes, musical theater productions and writing classes to the community for the past nine years. They operate out of the second floor of the Laramie Civic Center, 710 E. Garfield St. Their programs are supported, in part, by a grant from the Wyoming Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.