duchesne acdaemy theatre
Chat with our directors and learn more about how this production came to be!
Mr. Thomas Becker:
When did you know you couldn’t produce a “typical” spring play? How did you go about selecting/creating a script/show that would work during COVID?
Mr. Becker: At the beginning of the school year, it was pretty clear that a “typical” spring play was not possible. We were able to do our fall production by moving it out-of-doors and performing for small, masked audiences but for obvious reasons that couldn’t happen in February. I knew whatever we did create would have to be taped and streamed and I knew that it would have to involve as little physical interaction between our actors as possible. That’s what made me land on some kind of “reader’s theater”. When I combined that idea with a streamed production, the idea of an old fashioned radio drama came to me. I knew that Dr. Stephanie Kidd worked with Radio Theatre Omaha, and decided she was the best person to help us with this kind of production.
After selecting a show and making a production plan, was the operation easier or more challenging than a typical spring show?
Mr. Becker: I believe it’s always more challenging when you’re doing something like this for the first time and incorporating COVID protocol.
What did you learn during this spring show about students’ ability to adapt to challenges?
Mr. Becker: They always surprise me. They always seem to adapt to situations much easier than I do.
What should people watch for when they view this program?
Mr. Becker: It might be fun for them to simply listen to the show 1st and see if they can get a picture of what the girls are doing to create the characters and the sounds in the production. After that, they could watch it. They might be surprised by who is voicing the characters how the sound effects are created.
Dr. Stephanie Kidd:
How did you become involved in this production?
Dr. Kidd: Thomas reached out to me before the holidays and told me that he wanted to do a spring play at DASH, but he was not sure how to do one safely indoors. He knew I ran Radio Theatre Omaha, a theatre company that focuses on live audio drama, and he hoped I might be able to direct a production for DASH that would be in this style. He sent me two scripts, and we chose the one we thought would be best suited for the young people at DASH.
How did you adapt the script/concept to best suit a high school production during COVID?
Dr. Kidd: This was the trickiest part of directing the play. Early Frost by Douglas Parkhirst is a five-person play that runs about 25 minutes long. And it’s not an audio drama. It is designed to be a one act stage play. So it already needed some adjustment if we were going to use it. You cannot just pick a play and assume it will translate directly to audio drama. Audio dramas are written to be heard. Plays are written to be seen.
I wanted to be able to work with a larger cast, and so Thomas and I agreed to flesh out the story a bit. I conceptualized a world in which a group of women in 1943 have taken over a radio program because the men are away at war. They are handling all aspects of the radio program – they are producing the entire program. One woman, Veronica Day, knows how to do this because her husband Jeremy is usually the program’s host. So, she gets her pals to take over the other jobs. They write the ads and sing the jingles. A local vaudeville troupe does the short drama piece. (That’s our play within the play, Early Frost by Douglas Parkhirst, the script Thomas and I chose.) They do the live sound effects. I ended up casting twelve women in the production.
What about this cast and crew’s preparation/presentation stood out to you?
DASH students are hard workers. They are bright. They are prepared. Once they understood the concept, they were “all in.” They each had the chance to research and create their own character story. I gave them each a name, but they decided who that woman was and what her back story was. I told them they had to decide how the war had impacted their character, and each one created a story to share about how someone in her life was away at war. They developed stories about husbands, fathers, brothers, best friends who were overseas. They researched specific military units, Navy ships, roles these men might have had. We based our play in Boston, and they researched the types of living situations the women would have had. What would a woman have done for work? How would she have supported herself? Would she have moved in with her parents? They approached the show with drive and intentionality, and as a director, I truly appreciate that kind of thoughtfulness.
How did students respond to the concept of a radio show?
Dr. Kidd: It was a new concept for all of them, and they asked lots of questions. With my theatre company, and outside COVID times, my actors have the opportunity to be very expressive with their faces. This cast wore masks, which meant they had to work twice as hard as my professional do when we perform. Tools like diction, annunciation, and breath support are all more challenging when you are wearing a mask that covers half your face. The DASH cast worked vigilantly to overcome this challenge so audience members could still understand them clearly. Not only that, but when you cannot see mouths, it is hard to even process who is speaking. Often times, a director will have an actor move when they are speaking. It is a visual cue to the audience to pay attention to the actor. But with audio drama, actors cannot move away from the microphones. And if we cannot see mouths moving and actors cannot move away from the microphones, actors have to be especially expressive with their eyes.
What should people watch for when they view this program?
Dr. Kidd: What I love the most about the show is that you can see how much fun these students are having throughout the show. They love and support each other so much, and it shows. And frankly, they missed making theatre!
We talked a lot about the parallel of our show, set in 1943, to the world right now. These women in 1943 stepped in and provided this radio program because they knew their friends and family needed a reprieve, a chance to sit down with their families and listen to something fun. They needed a break from the stress of war time, and so once a week they’d sit in the family room and tune in. Isn’t that what the arts are for? Here we are in 2021 doing the same thing in a stressful time. DASH students have huge hearts, and they took a risk creating this production. As safe as we were with masks and social distancing, it was still a risk for them. But they wanted to create something special to share with their friends and family. Because art matters. Theatre matters. And you can see that on their faces. They are proud of the production we made, and I am so proud of how creative and passionate they were throughout the entire process.
DASH Radio Hour, conceptualized by Stephanie Kidd, featuring Early Frost by Douglas F. Parkhirst.
In March 1943 with their men away at war, thirteen women spent an evening creating a radio program for their friends and neighbors in Boston. Sweetheart Veronica Day knows how to host the show; her husband Jeremy usually has the gig but he’s left her home alone with a few kids to raise on her own. She’s recruited her pals to join her because she knows that the program is something her community loves and needs during wartime. From singing the jingles to presenting a weekly drama with live sound effects, the women band together with tenacity and resilience because the show must go on.
DASH Radio Hour Cast
Veronica Day, Our Host – Victoria Ruiz-Juvera
The Baylor Sisters
Marilyn – Molly McBride
Carolyn – Mira Norman
Sara Lynn – Rosalyn Morales
DASH Vaudeville Troupe:
Cora Young – Anna Preston
Betty Sue Johnson – Addy Lawse
Frances Buck – Tess Bowler
Babs Bennett – Claire Malone
Shirley Connolley – Savannah Grace
Virginia James – Dee Mason
Who are featured in …
Early Frost Cast
Alice – Savannah Grace
Lydia – Dee Mason
Louise – Tess Bowler
Hannah – Claire Malone
Mrs. Clayton – Addy Lawse
Narrator – Anna Preston
Live SFX team
Evelyn Hawks – Izzy Shehan
Hazel Pruitt – Maria Trautman
DASH Radio Hour Production team:
Director – Dr. Stephanie Kidd
Assistant Director – Mr. Thomas Becker
Scenic Designer – Mr. Thomas Becker
Stage Manager – Savannah Froelicher
Costume & Wig Designers – Ana Zulkoski, Grace Michaels
Lighting Board Operators – Autumn Siedlik, Jessie Meiers
Hair Consultation – Amber Bockman
Videography – Kevin Boughton
Poster & Website – Brittney Dorner
Meet the Director
Dr. Stephanie Kidd is an Omaha theatre artist with a passion for acting and directing. Originally from Overland Park, Kansas, she has been a part of the Omaha theatre since 1997. Since her arrival in Omaha, Stephanie has worked for some of Omaha’s premier theatre companies, including The Rose, RESPECT, and Great Plains Theatre Commons. Stephanie is managing director of Radio Theatre Omaha, Omaha’s only live audio drama theatre company. She sits on the board of Anastasis Theatre Company and is a six-year board member of Theatre Arts Guild, where she serves as the Scholarship Chair and founded and helps moderate the TAG DE&I Forum. She is an active member of Junior League of Omaha where she chairs the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Stephanie holds a BFA in theatre (directing) from Creighton University, an MA in theatre (acting) from University of Nebraska Omaha, and a PhD in higher education administration. She works as the communications strategist for UNeTech, the startup incubator for the University of Nebraska