- Visual and Performing Arts
What happens when Cupid accidentally shoots himself with his own arrow and falls out of commission for the foreseeable future? The Powers That Be pivot, and they bring in an understudy. Hilarity and chaos ensue, as factions working for Love and War jockey for control over this all-important assignment.
Such is the premise for a delightfully engaging podcast presented by the Windward Drama Club’s Westchester Middle School students, written and directed by Performing Arts Chairperson Ms. Betsy Hooper. This show has been a bright spot in a year when all live performances have not been possible, and it has proven that our resilient Windward community can truly adapt to any obstacles thrown its way. “There was a great sense of loss last year,” Ms. Hooper explained. “We shut down right before our two major shows.” To fill the hole that this loss created, Ms. Hooper shifted to creating podcasts, and “took to it like a duck to water,” as she put it.
This show has been a bright spot in a year when all live performances have not been possible, and it has proven that our resilient Windward community can truly adapt to any obstacles thrown its way.
After producing a mystery-themed podcast last spring, the Drama Club used the lessons learned from the experience to approach The Understudy with new skill sets and a confidence in their ability to navigate this format. “The kids got comfortable quickly,” Ms. Hooper shared. “We all knew and trusted each other.” That trust enabled them to view rehearsals as an opportunity to take risks with their characters, feeling out different options in a low-stakes environment. Ms. Hooper continued, “I have always found that rehearsal is a great structure, because if we mess something up, so what? That’s what rehearsal is for. You only learn if you make a mistake.”
The result of all this hard work is a production brimming with joy in the creative process, relishing in its quirky, multi-layered characters. “These children are brilliant. They were willing to take the time and have the patience with themselves to get their mouths around all the language. It’s a very language-y show, [full of complex dialogue and varied vocabulary]. They have proven to be remarkable,” Ms. Hooper noted.
Pivoting to a podcast format, initially a necessity, has now become an exciting opportunity for the Drama Club to apply its talents to a new medium. In fact, Ms. Hooper is hoping that next year she can also enlist students for post-production tasks such as editing, layering sound, and sourcing sound effects. “There are lots of kids who don’t like to perform—they want to be part of a creative life but they don’t want to be performers. Learning to edit podcasts—that would be huge for them.” If their presentation of The Understudy is any indication, it’s clear that Windward’s Drama Club has great things in store for their future endeavors. We can’t wait to see what they do next.
You can binge-listen all six episodes of The Understudy below. (You may not be able to help yourself!)
War Commissioner Nasty Meanopolus has been demoted to Director of the Understudies and replaced by her sister, Peace Commissioner Milkwood. When Nasty learns that Cupid is hospitalized after shooting himself with his own arrow, she sees an opportunity to reclaim her power.
Middle school student Ora meets Sybil, a talking dog who informs her that she’s been selected for a very important assignment by the Powers That Be.
Commissioner Milkwood visits Cupid in the hospital and finds him afflicted with a surprising side effect of having shot himself with his own arrow. Meanwhile, Nasty has enlisted Gorgon and Cyclops to thwart the efforts to preserve Love in Cupid’s absence.
Ora struggles with her new responsibilities and simultaneously faces the added complications of middle school social life.
Nasty, Gorgon, and Cyclops meet at Roxie Racoon’s Garbage Buffet to discuss recent developments, with Nasty informed of a surprising final outcome that may come to pass.
Monsters and humans alike converge on Ora’s middle school in a suspenseful, action-packed final episode.