Traveling Players is Working Hard to Keep Theatre Alive Virtually in Tysons During the Coronavirus Pandemic
“We love being at Tysons!” exclaimed Jeanne E. Harrison, Producing Artistic Director of Traveling Players. “From performing on the Plaza to rehearsing in our Studio, Tysons remains central to our region. We feel so lucky to play our part as a cultural hub for theatrical kids, and we cannot wait for the day when we get to perform in our Studio!” Traveling Players, located in Tysons, is a nonprofit educational theatre company dedicated to bringing theatre into the great outdoors through an innovative summer camp. The company offers year-round acting classes and workshops, which they conduct in their Studio.
While the theatre company has been unable to meet in person due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, Traveling Players has persevered and continues to pursue its goal to provide an outstanding theatre experience for young adults that will contribute to their maturity and foster a lifelong love of theatre.
This past summer, Traveling Players produced 9 plays, including a full length production of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. Adapting to directing, acting, and producing a theatre production virtually was a novel experience for all involved. Although there was a steep learning curve, the students and instructors had fun, continued to learn and the shows were very well received — and seen all over the world, a benefit of the virtual environment.
Traveling Players: Actor Spotlights
Graham Cole, a senior at McLean High School, has been with the Traveling Players for several years. Graham has been acting as long as he can remember and acted in his first production in third grade. He was in the ensemble’s cancelled production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (one of two plays Traveling Players had scheduled for the weekend when the coronavirus shutdown occurred – which would have been Traveling Players’ inaugural production at the Tysons Studio). Graham was in Traveling Players’ most advanced performance troupe this past summer. He can be seen in the blooper reel in a gold robe. He is currently in the process of applying to college and will pursue an acting degree.
In reflecting on his favorite shows Graham said, “my favorite show has got to be a Commedia dell’arte rendition,” (a form of masked improvisational theatre) of Sleeping Beauty, which he performed with the Traveling Players in the summer of 2018 (when he was a rising sophomore). “Sleeping Beauty was my second show with Traveling Players, and the experience was amazing; it’s really what made me commit to being a part of the Traveling Players’ community. I love improv and I’m still doing it (my troupe, (the) UnRuly Theatre Project, is performing on Zoom now).” The aforementioned group is The Alden’s professional teen improv company dedicated to bringing comedic productions to the community. With this group, Graham recently started his third season as a cast member and also did some professional acting on all three of their Drive-Thru Drama shows this past summer and fall.
Graham thoughtfully stated, “I’m a performer, it’s just a part of who I am, and I can’t imagine my life without it. I’m a fairly quiet and introverted person in real life, but I love to put that aside and become someone else for a little while, and it’s even better when people enjoy that.”
Lori Collins, a 9th grader at James Madison High School, has been a camper with Traveling Players for two years (a part of the in-person camp in 2019 and the virtual camp this past summer). At 14 years old, Lori has now been acting for eight years. According to Lori’s mother, Lynn Collins, Lori first became interested in acting the summer before second grade when she attended a two week theatre camp. After a few days, she did not want to return to camp, but since she’d signed up for two full weeks, her mother encouraged her to go back. In reflecting upon Lori returning to camp, Lynn exclaimed, “Thank goodness she returned! Despite being one of the littlest kids there, she had a decent sized part as Flower #1 and even sang a solo to Here Comes the Sun.”
Lori’s favorite production thus far that she has acted in is Frozen, although she never got to perform the play because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Lori was cast to play one of the lead roles, Anna, and her best friend was cast to play the other lead, Elsa. The cast of the production of Frozen was an all-girls group of about 15 girls, and with rehearsals every week and the cast became very close. Lori stated that she “obviously misses everyone very much and wishes the production had actually happened.”
Lori’s favorite thing about acting would have to be the final outcome, or the actual show. She said that “everyone- the actors, the crew, the directors- work so hard on the show and it’s just so amazing to see it all come together. It makes me truly thankful for everyone who worked on the show, and there’s an indescribable magic of opening night.There’s really nothing like it.” Lori loves musicals and Shakespeare. Her favorite musicals include Hairspray, Hamilton, The Sound of Music and Moulin Rouge.
Tysons Partnership applauds the Traveling Players Ensemble and its young actors for keeping theatre alive and well during this uncertain time. We are so glad they are still creating art in Tysons, now using their Tysons Studio as their costume and scene shop.
Tickets for the Traveling Player’s Fall One-Act Festival are on sale now and can be purchased HERE. The festival of three plays will take place on December 13th, beginning at 2 pm. A ticket grants you admittance to all three plays. Like this past summer, these plays have been directed and produced for Zoom with student actors in grades 6-12.
Traveling Players have auditions for its Winter plays on December 19th for students in grades 4-12. The auditions and the play will be completely virtual and held on Zoom. Additionally, Traveling Players hosts D&D Improv for students in grades 4-12 who like to create original stories. More information can be found HERE.