This show may be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmNpfmYQr0o
Lake Braddock Secondary School
"What separates us?" In a world weary from a yearlong lockdown, the answer might seem simple: physical distance. However, this time of racial reckonings and growing political divisions has shown there are many other factors causing the disconnect. Langley High School's production of "Long Division" explored why rifts form in our society and what ultimately brings us all together.
"Long Division" was written by the students of Langley's advanced theatre class after the January 6th Capitol riot. Born from a devised theatre workshop with Arena Stage, the students felt it was important to create this show to share their experiences and record their emotions regarding our lives this past year.
The filming of the play was fully virtual; actors only interacted with each other through a split screen. A great deal of the performance was composed of voice-overs from students reacting to video clips from the news overlaid on screen. The other parts of the show were personal stories recited by the cast.
Although the nature of devised theatre means it is a highly collaborative form of art and usually features no lead characters, one standout performance came from Lindsay Muangman. As Muangman talked about the community rallying behind her essential-worker parents, her smile seemed to light up the room. Another great scene happened between Hannah Toronto and Kate Moore. The two girls showed how excessive stubbornness can be detrimental to society through a spoken short story seemingly brought to life by their voices.
The scene titled "Covid" was by far the highlight of the play because it was a large ensemble piece that allowed both the actors and the student editors to showcase their skills. The cast's incredible performance was enhanced by editors Conard Racich, Elizabeth Tippens, and Celeste Deale. Starting with a black screen and the sound of an alarm clock beeping, this scene displayed the repetitive motions we all do just to make it through the day. The overlapping, echoey voice-over by Racich and the ticking of a clock, which sounded like the pulsing of a heart, served to create an urgency in the scene, which was juxtaposed by the mundane actions shown by the actors. Altogether, the scene successfully conveyed the feeling of being trapped, like an ant under the shadow of a boot. This scene also had a great balance as it provided a brief moment of levity. When the voice-over reminded everyone to always share, a student looked right at the camera, raised an eyebrow, and held up a roll of toilet paper.
Although it is easy to focus on hate, Langley High School's production of "Long Division" showed that the distance created by division is not uncrossable.
Lake Braddock Secondary School
"More than two hours of screen time is bad for you. What happened to that rule?" Langley High School shared many familiar sentiments from the past year in their moving and well-done production of "Long Division." The show offered an excellent recounting of the teenage perspective on every facet of last year including COVID, increasing violence, struggling relationships, and coming back to school.
After 2020, a year full of new experiences and arduous times, the students at Langley High School felt a responsibility to share their thoughts and feelings about how life has been for them in the best way they knew how: theater. The advanced theater class started writing down their stories, and with help from Arena Stage, compiled them into a lovely piece of devised theater. The show was in two parts. The first recounted the overarching problems that society has faced and then brings to light how people came together to support each other. The second sunk the focus to a day-to-day level by focusing on what it has been like to live and endure through everything that has happened, specifically from the eyes of a teenager.
The core of this production was anchored in its presentation. Langley used lots of stock footage, compiled by Celeste Deale, to underscore narrations of each actor. This gave the show a very professional atmosphere and helped to establish a sense of authority that reassured the audience. Furthermore, the presentation of recorded segments, edited by Conard Racich and Elizabeth Tippens, were brought together in a very clean manner which helped bring forward the importance of what the actors had to say.
"Long Division" featured many interesting performances. During the scene discussing COVID, the lead narration done by Eli Roberts shook the screen. His vocal intensity and gravitas sucked the air from the room and created an incredibly somber atmosphere. Other exceptional performances were delivered by Devran Johnson and Elizabeth Tippens. Their scene, "Time Apart," presented a budding relationship during COVID. They both started very optimistically, but as they spoke the mood shifted toward that of disconnection. This scene not only showcased two fantastic actors but showed how effectively a piece of devised theater could relate to its audience.
One of the best scenes in the entire piece showed the monotony of life during the pandemic. It showed a person getting out of bed, working at a computer, and then going to sleep. They did this over and over again, with a booming echo of narration. The editing began to dial up the speed and sound editing to the point of sensory overload and then cut to static. The display connected deeply with the audience and truly summed up the experience without outright saying much.
Langley's production of "Long Division" wonderfully put on display the life of a teenager during the global pandemic. The piece of devised theater used wonderful storytelling in combination with sincere narration to help bridge the gap over a long division.