Hall Takes Theater Outdoors with Production of ‘All in the Timing’

From left: Kate Sorensen, August Kittleson, and Quinn Smith rehearsal "The Universal Language," the fifth play in Hall High School's production of "All in the Timing." Courtesy photo

‘All in the Timing,’ a series of one-act plays, will be performed outdoors by students at West Hartford’s Hall High Theater Department.

Sebastien Brand and Jenny Brown rehearse “A Sure Thing,” the first play in Hall High School’s production of “All in the Timing.” Courtesy photo

By Ronni Newton

The saying “the show must go on” is very much true at West Hartford’s Hall High School, where despite myriad challenges, the theater department is preparing for the year’s first production – a first-ever outdoor performance.

“All in the Timing,” a collection of five short plays by David Ives, will be performed on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 23 and 24, on a stage that will be set up outdoors in the bus loop area at Hall High School.

“They’re all ‘absurdist comedy,'” Theater Director and acting teacher Hunter Parker said of the plays.

The themes involve time, love, and connections with people. “It’s a good thing to explore right now,” Parker said.

“All in the Timing” was originally performed on Broadway in the 1980s, and revived in 2013, she said, and she believes the humor will really resonate with audiences.

“Variations of the Death of Trotsky” is the second play in Hall High School’s production of “All in the Timing.” Courtesy photo

The cast sizes are small – which makes physically distant rehearsals easier – and students have been rehearsing outdoors, as well as through Zoom or Google Meets.

Hall’s portable sound system will be used for the outdoor performance, and actors will be wearing masks, with mics outside of them.

“It kind of works … 2020 is an absurd time,” Parker said. “Hopefully we can find comedy and levity in what’s happening.”

“I’ve enjoyed playing my role with my scene partner at rehearsal,” said junior August Kittleson, who plays Don in “The Universal Language.”

“All our scenes are so out-there and absurd that it can’t help but get a laugh out of me,” he said. “I’m playing a con man who speaks only in a made-up language and I can’t get enough of it! I get to express so many emotions through comedy.”

Kate Sorensen, a senior who plays Dawn in “The Universal Language” said she’s enjoyed working with the other actors in my scene and the crew to put together a crazy and complex scene.

“Our scene is already pretty crazy without a pandemic, so having to follow social distance guidelines and wearing masks adds one more challenge to the mix,” she said. “Despite these challenges, it is all worth it to keep everyone safe and put on an entertaining performance.”

Sorensen said the plays will brighten people’s days.

“All of these plays are a little crazy, so it will definitely help distract the audience from their everyday lives,” she said.

There is no charge to attend, but tickets need to be reserved in advance and attendance will be capped at 63 for each performance. Attendees are encouraged to BYOC (bring your own chair).

Students rehearse “The Philadelphia,” the third play in Hall High School’s production of “All in the Timing.” Courtesy photo

“People should come because it’s a new theatre experience … and if you think about it, we’re returning to a more traditional theatre experience since it was originally performed outside,” said Audrey Weber, a senior who is stage manager for the production.

The overall show will run about 75 minutes, Parker said, with no intermission.

While she and the students will miss being in their beloved black box theater for this fall performance, all are happy for a chance to do this show.

Parker said she anticipates needing to hold performances of winter productions in a virtual format, but wanted to take advantage of the weather to do an outdoor show.

Kittleson said preparing for the fall show has been a challenge due to the hybrid schedule as well as fear of a viral outbreak.

“I’m sure we’ll still be able to pull off the show because of our strong cast and leadership,” Kittleson said. “Preparing for the show outside has also proved … different because it’s challenged how we project and move around the ‘stage.'”

Sorensen said that not being able to bond with everyone in the cast has been one of the major differences in this experience.

“Usually, the casts become close and we make amazing friends, but we haven’t been able to do that during this production. I only really have gotten to know the other actors in my scene. Although they are outstanding, I wish I could get to know all of the other people that make up this amazingly talented and wonderful cast.”

Parker also expressed her sincere thanks to technical director Spencer Bazzano and the student crew for all of the work they are doing behind the scenes to make this a reality.

“The moving parts have been different and presented a new challenge, but it’s given us a chance to find new solutions to things which is actually kind of cool,” said Weber.

“Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread” is the fourth play in Hall High School’s production of “All in the Timing.” Courtesy photo

Parker shared an email she received a few week’s ago from August Kittleson’s mom:

Dear Hunter,

I cannot tell you how happy I am that you have set up a program of shows this year, despite all the challenges! Thank you for all your work, creativity, and positivity. I think it was a long summer for many of these young people, and this is a really important outlet for them to have.
I am also, of course, thrilled that August is in the first show of the year, and he is *so fired up* about his part. Unfortunately, I cannot make the parent meeting on Monday, as I teach at that same time. But if there is any way I can help out, do not hesitate to let me know!
Thank you again, and have a wonderful weekend!
Zayde (Antrim)

“It’s been really a lot of fun,” Parker said of the preparation.

Performances for “All in the Timing” will be held on Friday, Oct. 23 at 3 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. To reserve a ticket, visit hallhightheatre.ludus.com.

Click here for the digital program.

Courtesy image

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