As live theater makes its return this summer, Tappan Zee High School alumnus Jarrett Winters Morley (‘16)–profiled as a #ProudTZGrad in 2019–will debut his original one-act play, Godless, at Manhattan’s Rogue Theatre Festival and the Providence Fringe Festival. “My cast and I have been given the extraordinary opportunity to not only perform on stage but perform on stage for a live audience,” said Morley, who is both writer and director–and a graduate student in the Music Business program at Berklee College of Music.
Morley reported that the development of Godless was a highly collaborative experience amidst unprecedented circumstances. He referenced an ‘overthinking, imaginative, thought-crazed’ late-night writing session last February, his senior year at the Manhattan School of Music (‘20). “It began as one of these deep existential mental conversations with myself,” Morley noted.
As festivals began to announce their intention to return to show production earlier this year, Morley seized the opportunity to submit and produce his newest work. Once the writing and editing process was complete, he cast the show and began rehearsals over Zoom. “I had already participated in a virtual production and was familiar with holding dancing, music, and scene rehearsals over Zoom,” says Morley. Beginning with a script read-through, Morley answered questions the cast had about the play, worked one-on-one with each of the actors and assisted them with character development/backstory. Each clearing space in front of their computers to have room to move around, the cast roughly staged the production with Morley in an effort to feel ‘together’ despite adhering to virtual connectivity.
“It’s a very interesting time and to have my works accepted to these festivals shows both the want and need for new voices in the theatrical sphere,” says Morley. “This added element of COVID-19 has made it harder to just get these works ready for the stage on an organizational level.”
In fact, learning to adapt and rise to challenges was a key piece of advice Morley had offered to TZHS students back in 2019: “Never become discouraged. Know that there will be bumps and challenges along the way, but the end result will be beyond all your expectations.”
Godless premieres at the Rogue Theatre Festival in Manhattan and will be recorded onstage to premiere on their virtual platform July 24 at 1PM. The play will be performed before a live audience at the Providence Fringe Festival in late July (dates to be announced).