Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary

The+Advanced+Acting+students+run+their+own+rehearsal+in+preparation+for+the+show.+Being+student-run%2C+students+had+full+responsibility+and+authority+when+writing%2C+directing%2C+building+props%2C+and+costuming+for+the+performances.+

Shivani Kadia ('24)

The Advanced Acting students run their own rehearsal in preparation for the show. Being student-run, students had full responsibility and authority when writing, directing, building props, and costuming for the performances.

Bella Gallus, Staff Writer

‘Tis the season of jumpscares, trick or treating, creepy costumes, storytelling, and more. Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte is back, and Trader Joe’s has brought quite a few new fall items. With that, The Bishop’s School’s Acting Workshop (AW) premiered the Halloween Show, in the spirit of the season. 

This school year is an opportunity for experimenting with the new and repairing the old. In the lockdowns of the 2020-2021 school year, countless sports games, acting and musical performances were lost in the whirlwind of COVID-19. But it is a new year, and with a new year comes new things, like the AW Halloween Show.

The show was introduced this year by Performing Arts and Theatre teacher Mrs. Samantha Howard. The Halloween Show had been a past tradition at her previous school for 17 years; she said  “[it is] difficult for me to imagine a fall without one.” Halloween is a holiday filled with scary stories, and dressing up in costumes, but not conventionally recognized through performances, like Christmas is with the Nutcracker. “It’s a way to attach a theatre performance to a holiday already centered around costumes and characters and a sense of fun,” said Mrs. Howard.

This Halloween season’s show is Unsettled and Unsolved: Bloody Mary Installment #1. It is centered around a podcast that interviews survivors after playing the infamous Bloody Mary game. The survivors come from two different parts of the world, the United States and Japan. Survivors from Japan played a game similar to Bloody Mary, with a ghost called Samara. The play looks into Bloody Mary’s background, the myth, and the game itself. It tells a twisted story, involving kids playing the game, facing danger, and Bloody Mary, in human, and ghost form. 

The most intriguing aspect of this performance is that the students in Advanced Acting, Tech, and Costume classes wrote, directed, and designed the show, rather than having a single teacher organizing it. Karina Kadia (‘22), an actress playing both Reese, a survivor, and Jules, who did not survive Bloody Mary, said the Halloween Show opened up an opportunity for the students “to create our own piece, and have every one of us involved in the production process.”

Emma Hong (‘22), the actress playing Bloody Mary, stated, “most of the time we just get on stage, and aren’t really familiar with the technical and costume side.” Students are being introduced to the whole process of a performance. Mrs. Howard added, “[the students are building] countless and varied skills, both on stage and off,” so that in the future, Ashley Sottosanti (‘22) said, “We would be more capable.” The students really strived to demonstrate their different skills, with the new freedom. Jerry Huber (‘24), a member of ATP (Advanced Tech and Production Class), was working on the sound system, sound effects, cues, and microphones, for the show and really enjoyed it because he “[could] choose anything and for any cue that I want.” Jerry had complete control over the sound with little oversight, unless he was facing trouble.

Along with the freedom and building of skill sets comes fun, partnered with stress. Students have to organize themselves on their own. The ATP students had full responsibility for the tech and production of the show, props, sound, and more. Kenneth Xiong (‘23), a member of ATP, created a “Salem witch trial-esqe, Bloody-Mary-esqe stake,” for a character to be burned at by Mary Queen of Scots. He also used his tech skills to create live projections and still projections in the theatre, which is a new thing in the theatre community. These projections project the actors, and actresses onto a mirror, and allow for Bloody Mary to come out of the mirror, much like in the myth. 

The students met every Monday night for rehearsals and dinner. Since some of the classes have the same period, it is hard to meet with them during the school day, Ashley added. Ashley said that the Monday night rehearsals, “definitely help with bonding,” and the dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., “[makes it] really easy to coordinate.” Kenneth expressed that he learned a lot about time management and how to work with others, because in the end all of the work has the same endpoint, the final show. 

Bishop’s has a value for long living traditions, like Bish Bowl, Airband, and not walking on the quad before lunch. Emma said, “The first one is always rocky, but it would be fun to do this again in the future.” Karina agreed, adding that she believed that, “it is a really great project for the group and a way for people to experiment with different parts of the performance production process.”

Unsettled and Unsolved: Bloody Mary Installment #1 premiered on October 22, 2021, a thrilling performance. Along with the annual fall play, this season has been full of productions. Unsettled and Unsolved had three successful performances. This was the first time Bishop’s had the Halloween Show, hopefully it will stick around for the spooky seasons to come.