‘Tens by Teens Goes Viral’ replaces in-person performance


tens by teens poster (courtesy of LTTV Youtube).

Claire Williams, copy editor

Like the vast majority of second semester events, LT’s production of “Tens by Teens,” a compilation of plays written and performed by students, was cancelled due to the coronavirus. While the in-person production of the plays was no longer a feasible option, theatre teacher and director Lawrence Keller decided to move the production online. “Tens by Teens Goes Viral” aired on LTTV’s Youtube channel at 7 p.m. Friday, May 8.

“I think ‘Tens by Teens’ is the most interesting production every year, regardless if it’s online or not,” student-playwright Meghan Lajewski ‘20 said. “It’s always fascinating to see what stories the people our age want to tell.”

“Tens by Teens Goes Viral” consisted of 10 original one-person plays that ranged from three and a half to nine minutes long. These were not the plays accepted into the original “Tens by Teens” production as those would have involved multiple actors coming together, something that is not feasible under the current stay-at-home order.

“Even though it’s not ideal, I was very excited to hear that ‘Tens [by Teens]’ was getting a second wind,” actor Logan Lestina ‘22 said. “I’m really glad that the writers are still getting a chance to be recognized.”

Keller approached the original “Tens by Teens” writers with the task of writing one-person plays in late March, Lajewski said. The writers met via Zoom. Other students from the playwriting class also began attending the meetings and attempting to write one-person plays for the production.

“The class I missed most from first semester was playwriting,” Lajewski said. “There was so much freedom and a sense of camaraderie in that class. When we started Zoom meetings with most of us coming back together, it was really amazing to all just hang out as a group again.”

When each one-person play made it into the online production, the writer was tasked with selecting an actor to be in it. The pool of actors was the same pool who had auditioned for the in-person performance of “Tens by Teens.” Each writer chose their top five actors, and Keller made the final decision, Lajewski said.

“As a writer, I pretty much thought my work would be done after finishing the monologues,” Lajewski said. “Instead, we were all much more involved, and suddenly all the writers became directors along with the actors.”

The actors were responsible for their own lighting, cinematography, sound and props. Every actor also had to do a Zoom call with Keller for suggestions on their performance, and some, including Lestina, also took suggestions from the writer of the play.

The performances were prerecorded which allowed all the actors and writers to be able to view the YouTube premiere at the same time. A live-chat feature even allowed the audience to interact with each other, Lawjewski said.

“I’m looking forward to the sense of community that the ‘Tens [by Teens Goes Viral]’ video is going to have,” Lestina said. “Since it’s premiering on YouTube, almost everyone who wants to watch it will be watching it at the same time. That’s the magic of theatre, and even a replication of that magic can be appreciated. ‘Tens by Teens Goes Viral’ will be a great way to fill the hole quarantine has left in theatre.”

If you missed the premiere of “Tens by Teens Goes Viral,” you can still check out the show at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=la5muj6DZQg .