Delta Drama staged a virtual production of “The War of the Worlds,” a famous radio play based off of English author H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel Dec. 4 through Dec. 6.
“The War of the Worlds” details 12 days in which invaders from Mars attack Earth.
The decision to put on a virtual production in favor of a stage production was made after the COVID-19 pandemic forced Delta College to suspend in-person instruction for the Fall 2020 semester.
Cast member Navaz Khan transferred to the Pacific Conservatory Theatre after graduating from the Delta Drama program in 2019. However, he found himself back in Stockton after his new school shut down for the semester.
Khan auditioned for the role of Professor Pierson in “The War of the Worlds” so he could continue acting while he was home.
“We had to send in a self-tape, performing one of the monologues in the play,” Khan said. “It was new for me, but very common for film and certain instances where an in person meeting can’t be arranged for a stage audition.”
Khan said being a part of the production was a unique experience as it was “kind of a ‘Frankensteined’ monster mix of a stage play, radio play, and film.”
Although the cast and crew couldn’t come together in person, Khan said much of the pre-production process was the same as it normally would’ve been if they were able to convene.
“We prepared a lot before we actually started rehearsing by, what we call, table work,” Khan said. “In other words, discussing the play and dissecting it as a literary piece first and foremost.”
After table work was complete, rehearsals began via Zoom.
“We put this together by going through the play piece-by-piece and making sure we knew where point A met with point B and so on,” Khan said.
Cast member Megan Silva, who had the role of an announcer, said this was her first show with Delta Drama. Prior to “The War of the Worlds,” Silva performed with Kudos Children’s Theatre and the American Musical Dramatic Academy (AMDA).
Silva said the biggest challenge for her when working on this production was adapting to acting on camera, which is something she had never done in her 13-year acting career.
“Some things were different than acting onstage, for example, knowing where to look,” Silva said.
Silva said working on this production brought a little bit of light to a year which presented many hardships.
“It really alleviated the 2020 loneliness I’ve been dealing with,” Silva said.
Silva, who is also a pianist, arranged and performed the music for the show.
“I have a bunch of 1930s sheet music from my great grandma,” she said. “When I first read the script, I noticed I had the sheet music for a song mentioned in the script.”
She sent an email to director Greg Foro, offering to provide music for the interludes.
“I’m really grateful I was given the opportunity to perform music in my first show at Delta,” Silva said.
Silva said she even formed friendships with several of the other cast members.
“This is my first year at Delta, so I was happy to finally get to know some of the people I’m going to school with,” Silva said. “I met some really amazing people in this show that I’ll stay in contact with even though the show has ended.”
Janice McClellan, a lifelong theater fan who viewed the show, said she watched “The War of the Worlds” because she was intrigued to see how it would translate into a virtual performance.
“With all of the new constraints we are currently experiencing, I’m glad to see the arts and especially theater continuing to produce creative and enjoyable shows,” McClellan said.
Delta Drama’s next virtual production will be of “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992” on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. More information can be found at deltadrama.com.