VHS Drama department draws its *virtual* curtains

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The fall play “Zoomdunnit” was the first ever virtual play put out by the VHS Drama Department and was written by Drama Department students. Photo from: VHS Yearbook

Yasmin Myers

Modern day rendition of a murder-mystery set in today’s world captivates those who watch. 

The drama department broke the barrier of in-person performance to bring the virtual audience a murder mystery worthy of a “Nancy Drew” novel. The play, written by Ventura High School theater department students, adheres to the current events we all face. “Zoomdunnit” took place current day, as characters still faced COVID-19 obstacles, and maintained social distancing guidelines despite the death of character Carlisle Sheridan.

Newly widowed Rebekah Sheridan, played by senior Jaidyn Sellers, displayed remorse while mourning her late husband. Sheridan invited over friends and family of the deceased husband to quarantine with her before attending the funeral. However, many servants were skeptical about how genuine her grief was from the start. 

Prior to the start of the play, Sellers shared that “Putting on the wig and makeup really helped me get into the mindset of Rebekah.”

VHS teacher Sebastien DeClerk displaying his fiery energy while portraying the role of Pizza Boss. Photo from: VHS Yearbook

The servants were right to be skeptical of Sheridan’s intentions. Phillip the Mysterious, played by senior Jack Zilles, assisted Sheridan with the murder of husband Carlisle in order to inherit the large sum of money Carlisle had available. Little did they know that their affair was soon to be exposed. With the help of the detective, played by senior Alyssia Troutman, the murderer was soon revealed, and the plan of Rebekah and Phillip the mysterious were foiled. 

Junior Ryan Palmisano who played the role of a rich Texan stated that, “I really imagined and thought about who my character is as a person and about his life before what’s shown on screen. So that way I [could] think of how he would interact and react to the events that unfolded on the Zoom.”

VHS teacher Sebastien DeClerk displaying his fiery energy while portraying the role of Pizza Boss. Photo from: VHS Yearbook

The online format of the play proposed many new challenges for the actors, Palmisano shared that the most challenging part of acting in the online play was “The timing, because everyone was on different WiFi and just [the] normal technical Zoom problems with lag and dropping out of the Zoom. It was a challenge to keep the timing as close as we can to what it is like in an in-person performance.”

VHS teacher Sebastien DeClerck debuted his first ever role as Pizza Boss for the play. Strictly focused on the delivery of his pizzas to the homes of many during COVID-19, Pizza Boss was angered at his delivery girl for being trapped inside a house due to weather conditions, and therefore being unable to deliver his prized pizzas. After all, the blood, sweat, and tears that went into creating each of the pizzas would have been for nothing if they were not met with the mouths of customers. 

The Pizza Boss’ kitchen was pictured with a pile of pizza boxes and the regular kitchen appliances. DeClerck stated, “I ate a lot of pizza (with my family) and saved the boxes. I took over the kitchen in my house every night and for rehearsals so that I was ‘in my element.’” 

DeClerck shared that, “For me as a teacher, the most enjoyable part of this play was interacting with students again! The pandemic and ensuing closure of campuses has been as difficult on teachers as it has for many students; it was such a deep, deep joy to share these moments of laughter and production with students.”