by John Viscardi
Just as we all remember where we were when the two planes hit the twin towers, so it was in mid-march of 2020 when the city started shutting down for real due to the pandemic.
Myself and my wife, Fiona Hutchison, and all our colleagues were teaching at York Prep. Things were normal, for the most part. We were in the throes of rehearsing Cabaret a year after our successful production of Chicago and we were feeling good about the prospect of opening on April 23rd.
Our students were working hard as they always do, and as we often do we recorded our dance numbers so that we could review them later and make whatever changes we thought necessary. Little did we know those videos would be the only vestige of that production.
There were whispers, rumors really, about the severity of the pandemic, but we didn’t, or couldn’t grasp, the severity of it until we were forced to shutdown the school.
We had up to that point in time a robust theater department and production track record at York having produced two main stage shows per year for nearly the past decade. Annually we had as many as 70 students in our Drama Club ranging from 6th thru 12th grade, which represented nearly 20% of our school population. So losing not just our hitherto production of Cabaret, but our dramatic way of life, was devastating to us all, and we needed a response.
And that response was a film called Ghostlight.
Set far into the future in a post-apocalyptic world, Ghostlight is a cautionary reflection of our time here on earth, inspired directly by the effects of the global pandemic and the impact it had on our performing arts community at York. It is somber insofar as it represents loss, but hopeful insofar it offers a glimpse of our spiritual longevity. It is, in the end, our love letter to the theater, and what it represented to us, as we felt it slipping away.