WNCC sophomore Lemuel Grady gathered his team on the Platte Valley Companies Performing Arts Center theater stage for a quick rundown of how the evening of rehearsal and filming would go on Thursday, Oct. 22.
Grady directed WNCC’s winter play, “A Christmas Carol,” which is scheduled to premiere Friday, Nov. 27.
“Lem Grady and I did our own adaptation of it. He came to me and said, ‘I really want to do 'A Christmas Carol,’” theater professor Francesca Mintowt-Czyz said. “And he’s like, ‘Can I direct it?’ And I said, ‘Sure.’ So, it’s been really fascinating to watch, because it’s always nice to kind of write your own thing.”
This isn’t the first play Grady, a theater performing arts major originally from Grand Island, has directed, but it is his first college production to direct, and it’s the first time directing a production entirely for film.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Grady had to figure out how to mesh the art of theater and the art of film together. While it was a new challenge for him to direct the play, he had started to get used to the new medium. Being a sophomore in college, he has participated in five collegiate productions, but the pandemic changed what most of those would look like.
“I got to do one live one,” he said, with a laugh.
A big difference between a live performance and a filmed one is the scheduling, he said. Instead of running through dress rehearsals of the entire production as the premiere date gets closer, Grady had his cast and crew prep different scenes each night of rehearsal, and then film those scenes the same night.
“I give them they’re blocking, and the actors themselves have to just get it memorized and have their lines memorized and get it done within 10 to 15 minutes. And then we film,” he said. “They get it done pretty quick. It helps that since we’re filming, we can say, ‘Cut. Reset.’”
Grady said that while he would have liked to do a performance for a live audience, he knew the importance of keeping the community safe. He also said he was grateful for the extra learning opportunities this kind of production provided him.
“It would have been nice to put it on for a live audience, but I learned a lot,” he said. “I’m still learning I think just as much, if not more … I’m actually kind of thankful it turned out like this.”