ARISTOPHANES’ ‘The Birds’: Bellarmine Fall Play 2021

Director Brien O’Loughlin talks to the actors at the Nov. 10 dress rehearsal. (Roma Sharkey)

The Bellarmine theatre department is a highly regarded extracurricular activity in the school community. The fall play for 2021 is entitled, Aristophanes’ “The Birds” a Comedy!

The dates are Nov. 11-13 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. Seating are limited due to social distancing and masks will be required for all those attending.

All four performances are held at McAstocker Theatre here at Bellarmine. Seating is reserved, $10 for adults and $5 for students, and can be bought using this link:

Prior to the play,multiple theatre performers and crew members spoke about their feelings a week before the play. 

Junior Olivia Wiebe plays a role in the bird chorus as well as a PR Guy in the production. She talked about the theatre community. “It is a really inclusive community. You can meet new people, and you have to work together well because if you don’t know each other nothing would work.” When asked what her favorite part of being involved in productions was, she said, “I like meeting new people, seeing them in the hallways, and having someone to go and a ‘place to be’ outside of the school day.” 

Regarding the play this week, Wiebe said “We definitely have some stuff to work on still, but tech day went smoothly. I am excited to see us all come together. It will be weird since we haven’t actually performed together since freshman year.” Nerves are expected prior to the play, and she gave her take on them as well. “There are lines that people say all the time, and we all know them, but we are all afraid of being wrong so we don’t say them as confidently as we should. I am nervous about making mistakes too.”

Senior Robyn Gorder, who plays one of the main characters in the production, Dillon, is very enthusiastic about the show coming up. “I have been participating in shows here since my freshman year. I have a leadership role now and it’s amazing.”

Similar to Wiebe, Gorder described the community as being tight-knit throughout her involvement, “I had that experience during the first show I performed in at Bellarmine. For most of the rehearsals, I was one of the only freshmen there. But the upperclassmen made me feel so welcomed and involved. I actually am still in contact with most of them.” 

When asked what she cherishes most about participating in the plays, she said, “I definitely would say the memories I make with everyone. As cheesy as this sounds, I look back at these memories and always smile. I love that I am able to do something I love with the people I love.” Considering Gorder is a senior, she said, “This is my last play as a senior and then I go on to do my last musical in the spring. So I am currently feeling all the emotions.” 

A different point of view compared to the actors are the production crew. While you might not see them when you attend a performance, they are doing all the work behind the scenes. Junior Meghan Foley is the Stage Manager for the production crew. “I am both the stage manager and co-lead of lights. For stage managing, I organize all of the actors and act as an assistant to the director. For lights, we design themes for the scenes and add light to the stage.” During the show, Foley said “I am in the light booth telling everyone over headset when to make a change. Whether it be a light cue or turning microphones on and off, I’m there.” 

She also described the community as having very close friendships, “The bonds we created in some of the crews have lasted long after some have graduated.” Regarding the play coming up, her excitement outweighs the nerves that accompany them. “I have a lot of excitement because of the traditions we have in each of the crews.”

An element of this production that differs from previous years is that the play is taking place in the context of COVID. Most significantly, actors have not performed on stage for 20 months due to the pandemic. Masks are being worn at all times regardless of the vaccine status of the actors and crew members. As for the specific effects, Foley explained, “COVID has affected some of it a lot, like last fall’s play, which was done completely from home. Now that there has been progress of going back to normal, we are more cautious but doing everything as similarly as we can to normal years.”

Wiebe said, “For the recorded musical last year, we would record the scenes multiple times and out of order. So if you mess up, you get another chance. This year, you don’t get to fix it like that. We do wear masks onstage, but we’re incorporating them into the costumes. We have ski masks and costume beaks, so it might be hard to recognize who is who!” 

The production is a free adaptation, but based on Aristophanes’ classic Greek comedy. The premise of the play involves two movie moguls who abandon society because of its shallowness, and make their way to live among the birds. The two humans endure challenges to become one with the birds, and unexpected twists and turns arise. Arguably the most striking element of the play is the use of modern references to drive the humor of the comedy. The audience will be laughing in their seats due to standout performances and references they are surely familiar with. While the themes of the play stay the same, the production is meant to be reflective of the time it is being performed in. Nonetheless, there is one sure fact regarding the production: audience members will be thoroughly entertained.