Produced by Chloe Chow
Stanford University, Ram's Head Theatrical Society
November 13-15, 2020
Gaieties is a student-produced and student-written musical extravaganza that spotlights the Stanford students' theatrical talent while satirizing Stanford culture. Gaieties 2020 re-imagines this 109-year tradition in a virtual format, and it aims to unite the Stanford community as we are scattered across the world. This production include underrepresented voices and communities from all corners of campus while also experimenting with the structure, returning to its original skit format with four acts. Rather than providing the cast a pre-written script, this production has been entirely devised by the cast and centers their voices within this year's narrative.
If you told me one year ago that I would be producing a show as a sophomore, I would have said “no way”. If you persisted and added on that I would be producing a show amid a global pandemic, I would have panicked and run the other direction. But if producing Gaieties 2020 has taught me anything, it is that art is adaptable as long as you have a mission. Nine months, one unused script, three versions of a production, and lots of coffee later, we have arrived at this moment. Welcome to Gaieties 2020, the very first virtual format of this 109-year tradition and the forerunner (and somewhat of a precedent) to many more student-run virtual productions.
I only have my freshman year in Gaieties to reference, but it was a wonderful one. I thought that I would be reproducing those warm and enlightening moments and beaming with pride backstage as I watch freshmen heroes brighten up MemAud with their glorious talent. Instead, I sit in front of a computer probably longer than is good for my eyes, but here is what has impressed me the most: every single person in this company has risked the same for the larger mission of bringing this tradition to life once more. I will admit: I have never produced a show before, neither in-person nor virtual. Thus, it was really difficult to navigate role descriptions and the way that this production would be assembled. However, my team members made the most of their situation and formed a collaboration across departments, both cast and staff, for the greater good. We are united by our mission of bringing forward underrepresented voices in the Stanford community.
The political climate of the country today is tense, I know, and we're in a period of momentous and historical change. On top of that, we’re dealing with the looming shadow of a pandemic, caring for our loved ones, and balancing work and possibly school. Despite all of this, I am astounded daily by the positivity and smiles that our cast and staff bring into the rehearsal room and production meetings. The virtual Gaieties community has taken shape right before my (screen-fatigued) eyes. This isn’t a result of some special software or feature on Zoom. This happened because we all care for and love one another.
This production is a life form that survives off of the sense of community. It lives and breathes and grows. We've all done our part to nurture it and see it succeed. I adore and look up to every single member of this production, especially my amazing director, Justine Sombilon. This is the family that has supported me in the last nine months of the pandemic and the family that I will remember when I look back at 2020. We are here to reclaim OUR Stanford, the Stanford we know and love, and stand by the fact that our traditions will live on, even as our global climate and community evolve.
As you watch this Gaieties, revel in the voices of this generation. This is just a slice of the amazing population of students here at Stanford who are ready to change the world, one song at a time.