Middle School play shines light on digital dependency

On May 11, the King’s Academy Middle School presented a humorous and thought-provoking play The Day the Internet Died, by Ian McWethy and Jason Pizzarello, in front of a packed audience full of proud parents and families, faculty and friends in the Abdul Majeed Shoman Auditorium.

Directed by performing arts teacher Jana Zeineddine, The Day the Internet Died is a dark comedy that explores what happens when a town’s internet goes down and its townspeople forget how to function socially without it, resulting in pandemonium.

Nineteen Middle School actors put on a hilarious performance of different members of society who suffer from varying levels of panic when they find out they can no longer post cute photos online, shop without leaving home, or look information up without the help of Google.

The audience was delighted by the vibrant performances depicting colorful characters including a vain mayor, a hapless librarian, anti-social youths and a confused khalto, to name a few. Aside from laughter, the play also offered a somewhat sobering opportunity for everyone to consider just how much truth there is to the plotline — has the internet really eroded the ability of society to interact normally without it? Could we cope without internet in this day and age? Would society really take a swift descent into pandemonium if it wasn’t online?

On the other hand, the portrayal of characters who enjoyed a break from the internet as well as those who, perhaps begrudgingly, eventually adapted to its absence, offer a glimmer of hope that perhaps we are not completely lost to our digital addiction.

In addition to impressive performances, the Middle School play was a “testament to the power of community” at King’s Academy, according to Zeineddine, with Upper School students providing technical support and Middle School students, faculty and staff from all departments pitching in to ensure the play was a hit.

“This production is a creative and logistical collaboration on multiple levels,” said Zeineddine. “This has been an invaluable educational experience in itself, and the true essence of drama education. The magical experience of an actor on stage, and a tech crew backstage, will always remain priceless — and nothing that AI can ever replace (fingers crossed).”

At the heart of drama education is a constant reminder of what it means to be human, noted Zeineddine, and what it means to feel, to express, to connect and to collaborate.

Middle School Play

The set design, music, costumes and behind-the-scenes work were just as essential to the play’s success. Catchy tunes that brought the play to life were produced by King’s music students, supported by digital music teacher Samuel Hennessy. Meanwhile, the simple yet striking set was designed by consultant art director (and former Middle School class dean) Laila Demashqieh.

“Our goal was to create a visually captivating and thought-provoking environment that reflects the theme of being caught between the realms of the internet and reality, without imposing any preconceived ideas on the audience,” said Demashqieh about the set, which was bathed in glowing blue light synonymous with the digital realm. “Our set design draws inspiration from a world existing in a liminal space where time, space, communication, and digital connection coexist and are absent simultaneously.”

While The Day the Internet Died might make the audience worry about what humans have lost due to their dependence on the digital world, the Middle School production was a welcome reminder that all is not lost, and that the strength of community can overcome all challenges.

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