FSSA’s Never the Sinner Continues Rehearsals on Zoom

On March 12th, Governor Andrew Cuomo banned gatherings of more than 500 people. Soon after, Major Bill de Blasio closed NYC public schools for the remainder of the academic year. With that, all extra curricular activities, school sporting events, and productions were cancelled and put on hold. 

Never the Sinner, a play by John Logan and directed by Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) drama teacher, Jamie Cacciola-Price (CP), was slated to begin performances at the end of May, with rehearsals well under way prior to the shelter in place order. Sinner, like every other production in the city, was put on hold. Yet, instead of canceling the production altogether, Director CP had another idea: continue rehearsals online. 

The company of Never the Sinner runs the full piece consisting of FSSA junior and Seniors four times a week, virtually. The rehearsals include full blocking, sound/lighting cues called, and director notes at the conclusion of each run-through. 

“The fact that we have been able to keep going is a blessing,”  CP said. He also explained how this experience has benefited the company.

‘Working in this setting has helped listening skills for the company; being able to truly analyze the text…. With this efficient rehearsal schedule, we will be able to quickly mount it on its feet when we’re able to meet in person,” he said.  

He also explains how working in this setting forces the company to focus on the language of the play, identifying dense text passages. 

However, working remotely does come with its challenges.

“John Logan has written the (true,) story of Leopold and Loeb, as a love story,” added CP. “The play requires face-to-face interactions. The physical intimacy that is required of this show, takes bravery by its actors to embrace that quality.”

Yet, he quickly acknowledged that working this way has allowed the actors to build connections and wrap their heads around the psychological mindset of both their crime and sexual relationship. Upon return, these moments will be easier to tackle.

Another challenge has been the ensemble. With a show so dependent upon the energy of the ensemble to keep the show moving, going virtual has posed some challenges.

“Heavy ensemble scenes have been compromised a little bit, and not having that connection is slightly noticeable,” said stage manager, Johanna Paulino. However she said that it has been working out a lot better than everyone thought, and is certainly helping the get ready for the companies return” 

While the pandemic has introduced many challenges, it ultimately speaks about the dedication and passion the FSSA students and faculty carry when approaching their work. Not only that, but it has kept everyone’s minds creative as they continue to learn in these uncertain times. Although the road ahead is currently unclear, Never the Sinner will open at Frank Sinatra, even if, virtually.

– by Aidan J. Lawrence ’20