Beacon students to return to (virtual) stage this weekend

Beacon students to return to (virtual) stage this weekend

Clockwise from top left, Guinevere Doura of Pascoag plays Evil Gabbi, Naomi Jeter of Woonsocket plays Agnes Evans and Cole Stanley of North Providence plays DM Biggs in the Beacon Theatre Workshop virtual presentation of “She Kills Monsters.”

WOONSOCKET – For the first time since the pandemic put a hold on public performances, students at Beacon Charter High School for the Arts will offer live theater in a virtual setting.

The Beacon Theatre Workshop presentation of “She Kills Monsters” will include two live shows on Jan. 15 and 16 and two pre-recorded shows on Jan. 23. Students will perform from their individual homes while the audience watches through a live stream.

The story follows a young woman who rediscovers her sister through a Dungeons and Dragons game after her sister’s death. Director and Theatre Arts teacher Jason LeClair said the playwright, Qui Nguyen, adapted the show for a virtual setting.

“This is kind of our testing ground. Both of our main stage shows this year are going to be virtual. We didn’t have a choice,” he said.

LeClair said the biggest challenge of rehearsing a show virtually has been lags in Wi-Fi connectivity at students’ individual homes. Most students are also learning virtually during the day and have already been online for six hours when they log into after-school rehearsal.

“The last thing they want to do is do another two or three hours on this thing. But I’ve got to hand it to them, they do it,” he said.

Despite the challenges, LeClair said the unique format has pushed students to take on new roles. With actors performing in front of green screens, students designers had to instruct their peers on how to set up stage lighting in their homes.

“They’re also super tech savvy. This is Gen Z we’re talking about here. This is their realm. So it’s kind of cool to watch them using what they already know how to use to do this,” he said.

In the spring, the workshop will offer a second virtual performance with “Romeo and Juliet,” which LeClair is adapting for an online setting. The play, he said, will offer a contemporary twist with the familiar love story playing out in an online relationship.

The group has also received a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts to support a Shakespeare in the Park festival, which they hope to offer in person later this year.

The shows will be streamed through . Individuals can visit to buy tickets. After purchasing, they’ll receive an individual viewing code. Live broadcasts will take place at 7 p.m. on Jan. 15 and 16. Pre-recorded shows will take place at 2 and 7 p.m. on Jan. 23. Tickets are $5.