Middle School Players Present Livestream of Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax”
Virtual production showcases students’ creativity and ingenuity.
When Drama Teacher Zoey Zimmerman decided to direct a theatrical adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” at Crossroads, she envisioned the Middle School Players’ production underscoring the show’s message of environmentalism. Scheduled to premiere during Earth Week, the show would forgo the conventional theater stage and instead use the School’s butterfly courtyard at sunset as its backdrop. Then in March, the School was forced to close its campuses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the show to go on, the Middle School Players would have to practice the central tenet of improvisation: Respond to whatever is given you with, “Yes, and...”
Following spring break, Zoey and the cast began rehearsing for a markedly different production of the show: a livestream performance distributed via Zoom. The rehearsals included not only routine movement and vocal exercises but also directives on where to stand in relation to the camera, how to project for a computer microphone and how to set up a green screen. Support from the Middle School’s Technology Coordinator Brandy Friedlander and Associate Computer Teacher Jard Jack “JJ” Hsu became crucial in the weeks leading up to the final performance.
“It was hard to pour our emotion into the screen while doing our lines,” admits sixth grader Ayla Croshere, who played one of the storytellers. “There were, of course, advantages, like our acting skills may get better with the harder challenges.”
Finally, on Saturday, May 2, the metaphorical Zoom curtain rose on the Middle School Players’ presentation of “The Lorax.” In a 12-screen grid with two key backdrops—one a gray and barren landscape, and the other a vibrant array of “Truffula” trees—the students successfully brought to life Dr. Seuss’ classic tale about the dangers of deforestation and the rise of consumerism.
After the performance, Zoey reflected on the relationship between Dr. Seuss’ work and her students’ accomplishment. “This underlying pedagogy—of perseverance and flexibility—is on point for the show,” she said. “Those skills, paired with tremendous focus and imagination, will be vital for our youth in the years to come.”