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The Young Professionals Company at OCT Presents IN THE FOREST SHE GREW FANGS

This free, virtual performance will be available to stream January 14-17.

The Young Professionals Company at OCT Presents IN THE FOREST SHE GREW FANGS

The Young Professionals Company at Oregon Children's Theatre has announced its second virtual performance of its season, In the Forest She Grew Fangs by Stephen Spotswood. A dark, bewitching, and bloody deconstruction of Red Riding Hood, the production takes on werewolves, teen lust, and high school bullies, and examines the question of who is prey and who is predator.

The Young Professionals Company (YPs), the award-winning teen mentoring program at OCT, rose to the unique challenge of producing shows for a virtual platform amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "Adapting a performance that is meant for the stage to be produced virtually is a huge task," says Dani Baldwin, Artistic Director of the Young Professionals Company. "We had to rethink everything from the very beginning." When the YPs formed their season selection committee-a group of teens that reads, assesses, and ultimately chooses the plays that the company will produce-they needed to consider how the script could be adapted and safely produced. Then came the added challenges of rehearsing virtually: "Typically, productions rely on the ensemble to bring the story to life," said Director Andrea White. "However, we needed to be creative in the rehearsal process: we rehearsed via Zoom, which created its own unique challenges. Once we moved to filming, we had to maintain social distancing and 'perform' for a camera rather than a live audience."

The YPs partnered with Curious Comedy Theater, utilizing their space to safely film the performance. Actors were filmed one at a time, filming their monologues or their part of a scene. In post-production, the footage was edited to create the effect of being onstage together. "This was such a different way to approach theater, removing the shared experience of performing together," White commented. "They were able to maintain the feel of being onstage with one another, even though we were safely separated, and it's impressive to see such professionalism from a group of teens." With these new challenges came new opportunities for education, which is a keystone to the YP Company's mission and values. "We know this year has been difficult for everyone and in many different ways," Baldwin continued. "But I am so proud of how the YPs stepped up, ready to learn new tasks and overcome these new challenges as the professionals that they are."

The script was inspired by the "It Gets Better" anti-bullying movement, as well as the increase in school shootings and other tragedies surrounding teens in the U.S. As the YPs began the rehearsal process, the cast and crew were challenged to have a dialogue about harmful and triggering language within the script. Together the teens weighed the relevance of these words and their importance to the work. "I'm proud of the YPs for their maturity and awareness of the potentially damaging words in the script," Baldwin said. "They were very cognizant of the weight these words carry, and their discussion was relevant, and timely. The YPs created a content warning for the performance based on their discussion, and because of the graphic content, and violent language and imagery, the performance is for ages 14 and up only.

This year, because of the COVID pandemic, the Young Professionals season will be entirely virtual; in addition to In the Forest, they performed a three-part series entitled Breaking Character in December. Impulse, the annual improv troupe performance, will also be done completely virtually in February. These online performances will be accessible and affordable, but they will encourage donations to help offset the production costs. Donations can be made online at octc.org/donate.



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