If Students Were Left Abandoned, What Would Happen?

A preview of the Lord of the Flies play performed by the Middle School


Art by Leila Feldman ('24)

The centerpiece of The Lord of the Flies is the pig which took the set design crew over 12 hours to construct for our outdoor performance.

Live theater is a recipe for COVID-19 spreading; students spending time in close spaces indoors for extended periods of time meant that it had to be pushed aside. With this year’s play being Lord of the Flies, the middle school Drama department saw the challenges of social distancing as more of a gift than anything else. Member of the Performing Arts Faculty and Upper School Diversity Coordinator Ms. Lara Korneychuk decided to stage the play, by transforming it into an outdoor film of the book. Technical Design Instructor Mr. AJ Paulin summed it up best: “This was a great opportunity to work and give the middle school class a production in this different iteration. It took a lot of out-the-box thinking, time, and creativity.” 

In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, a group of schoolboys get stranded on an island and attempt to survive there with virtually nothing. The boys battle for leadership roles, kill each other, and ultimately find the pig that haunts the island. 

Every play has a message it’s trying to send in Ms. Korneychuk’s eyes on “of the really [important] thematic elements of Lord of the Flies that I think is really important for our community is this question of: How do young people behave when no grownups are looking? That’s kind of the question that Lord of the Flies asks.” When Ms. Korneychuk talked about the premise of the book she said that,  “every individual student I have worked with at The Bishop’s School has been a lovely person with a great heart and a great mind, and so I find it to be an interesting social phenom that you can take good individuals, put them in a group together, and leave them in a group together (unsupervised), and they will do things that don’t align with their values.”  

One of the changes was the set’s constructions. Mr. Paulin said that the premise of the set design was “trying to accomplish the feeling of isolation and despair that these students would be feeling while being stuck on an island.” Given that they wouldn’t actually be on a desert island he and Ms. Korneychuk tried to “explore the idea of The Bishop’s School as an abandoned area.”  “Using the current architecture and dressing things up or dressing things down to make it look like the area is abandoned is one of the main ways to show a deserted island,” he said. The set was designed by the Musical Theater 9 (MT8) Studio class and the Theatre Design and Production Classes. The most challenging pieces that they had to create were the airplane that the boys fell out of, the pig, and the deserted island overall on such a bustling campus. The airplane had to look destroyed but not too destroyed because the boys had to make it out of the plane alive. After a long pause, Mr. Paulin explained that the most time-consuming piece of the set to make was the pig, which is a massive part of the movie and the set but was only used for maybe five minutes however took between 12-16 hours to build. 

Something else that the cast has really loved is the difference between this year being a movie rather than an ongoing live performance. Lainie Beamer (‘25) who plays one of the twins, Sam, highlighted the fact that they “can laugh after every scene…After [Ms. Korneychuk] calls cut you’re allowed to laugh and talk, and it’s interesting because in a regular play, you wouldn’t be allowed to do that.” This play allowed for Simon (Mira Singh (‘25)) to experience night shoots: something she said, “ I never thought I would experience and something I think will help me with my future with acting.” 

This play didn’t just house new set barriers—it also fostered new friendships. Most of the lead actors’ favorite parts about working in the play was working and bonding with the cast. Aounk Jansen (‘25) who played the role of Piggy, said the most fun part of the play was “getting close to everyone in the cast. We have all become really close friends and I really appreciate that.” For some, including Jack Harvey (‘25), (who iconically plays Jack in the play) this was his first time doing a play and, according to Jack, the cast made it “really awesome and it’s no judgment if you get a line wrong or staging is incorrect; they are very easy to work with and positive people.” This no judgement environment is crucial for acting and creating a really authentic and natural play. For psychopath Roger, played by Summer Hu (‘25) has been a part of the performing arts community for three years but claims “this is one of the best casts I’ve been with.” When Lainie talked about the cast and the environment she said it was “really enjoyable and very natural…I don’t have to worry about getting judged because of my acting choices by any of the other members of the cast.” Mira Sign (‘25) claimed that this play allowed for “bonding time with other people and made closer friendships with the people in the cast that she might not have had if she wasn’t in the show.” 

Bringing this play together had a collection of boulders that the crew, cast, and directors had to overcome, but they were all proud of how it came together. After nearly four months of rehearsals, this play is supposed to be released shortly after we get out of school. After clearing out the terrace for the abandoned actors the film will finally be released June 5th.