With proms, spring musicals and graduations being cancelled across the nation, high schoolers everywhere are being robbed of important memories and milestones.
“It’s the time of their lives where they’re really trying to explore their independence — they’re falling in love for the first time, they’re hitting all these milestones and their friends are their whole world,” says Cori Anne Laemmel, artistic director of The Theater Bug.
That’s where arts organizations like The Theatre Bug come in, who are determined to fill the creative voids of young artists with a unique, exclusively-digital performance opportunity.
From the minds of Laemmel, Nashville Rep’s Nate Eppler and Laura Matula, Quaranteened will be an original musical created and performed by teens ages 13-19 about the changes in the world that they’re facing right now, today.
“Finding ways to give kids voices around social issues that are impacting them right now was something we really had our hearts on,” Laemmel explains. “By then end of it, the hope is that they’re reminded of their own value and worth — which can be really hard in a time that you feel isolated.”
According to Eppler — who serves as one of the project’s teaching artists — the continued creation of new works is something everyone needs right now.
“I’ve always believed the best way to respond to a moment is with the language of that moment,” says Nashville Rep’s Nate Eppler. “And new plays are sometimes the best way we can process the world we find ourselves in.”
Eppler explained that he and Laemmel had been talking for a while about a partnership between Nashville Rep and Theater Bug with the Rep’s Ingram New Works project. The plan was to help mentor students write short plays and work on them with actors and then present them as part of a festival.
“When the pandemic occurred and we moved into quarantine, there was no question that we had to adjust to make something about right now,” Eppler says. “Getting a chance now to mentor these kids through the isolations they’re experiencing is really important.”
Here’s how it will work. After the completion of the script formulated from writing submissions, actors may audition to perform the script by being directed remotely and self-taping their pieces. The Theater Bug team will then edit together the scenes and songs to create a finished product. Students will participate via Zoom, FaceTime and email and — oh, yeah — the program is free of charge.
“We will take writing submissions this week,” Laemmel says. “Kids can submit a monologue, a short scene or a song. It’s Nashville, so of course we want to make sure we have that musical element.”
Laura Matula will be the project’s musical advisor. Additional staff includes director of cinematography Tony Matula, stage manager Sarah Bolek and emotional health support by Melissa Bowles.
As the Nashville theatre community watches this innovative project develop over the next few weeks, Laemmel sums it up best.
“It’s all about community. There’s a lot of loss that these kids are going through right now, and I don’t want them to lose the community they have at the Bug, too,” she says. “Plus, in such divisive times, I think hearing the artistic perspective of kids is so important because I find that people are more receptive when a kid is telling the story. They’re more open to a unifying message.”
For more information, visit The Theater Bug’s Quaranteened audition page.
“We are very excited to make some fantastic art with you, but ask that everyone remember that this is uncharted territory for us all. Participants will be asked for their understanding and flexibility as we learn how to create together.”
All pieces must be submitted between Wednesday, March 25th and Sunday, March 29th. Songs may be submitted as audio or video recordings. All submissions must be uploaded to the correct Quaranteened Dropbox folders.
Guidelines for pieces:
Young writers ages 13-19 may submit a scene, song or monologue not to exceed 4 minutes in length. This means no more than one page for monologues or 4 pages for scenes. All pieces should reflect the teen experience of the current social distancing/quarantine culture. The leading teaching artists will review submissions and select a group of writers to participate in the creation of Quaranteened, a virtual musical by workshopping submissions and threading them together under the guidance of professional writers and songwriters.
After the completion of the script, we will accept video audition submissions for actors who wish to participate in the production. Auditionees will be asked to submit one minute of a monologue and/or a song of their choice. Character breakdown will be released after the completion of the script. Writers may audition but are not guaranteed a role. The show will be cast, directed remotely and actors will then self-tape their portions of the production. All scenes and songs will be edited together to create the fully finished piece.
Writers may use the following prompts or write without them.
Cancelled: Prom, Graduation, Birthday party, high school musical. Write from the perspective of a character that experiences a cancellation. Grief? Relief? Both?
Connected: Write a scene, song or monologue where the character(s) can only communicate through text, FaceTime, email, messenger, social media or the phone.
Related: Write a scene, song or monologue about family dynamics during social distancing.
Imagined: Write a scene, song or monologue about how you imagine the future.
Submissions Open – Wednesday, March 25th
Submission Deadline – Sunday, March 29th
Contact writers about admission – Tuesday, March 31st-April 1st
First Session – Thursday, April 2nd, 4-8pm
Second Session – Saturday, April 4th,10am-2pm
Third Session – Sunday, April 5th, Materials due by 4pm & Lab 6-9pm
Final Read – Monday, April 6th, Materials due by 4pm & Read Thur 6-8:30pm
Actors ages 13-19 may submit one minute of a contemporary song or monologue. Please be sure that videos have clear audio. For songs you must either have live accompaniment, self accompaniment or a karaoke track without vocals. Pieces must be uploaded to the Quaranteened audition Dropbox folder. Link will open on April 8.
Audition Submissions – Wednesday, April 8th-Friday, April 10th
Role Offers – Saturday, April 11th and Sunday, April 12th
Read through with actors and writers – Monday, April 13th, 4pm
Rehearsal and Taping Dates TBA with each actor – Tuesday April 14th-Friday April 17th
All Submissions Due Saturday, April 18th