Class canceled by COVID-19 motivates high school drama students to take talent online to create multi-part mystery series from scratch

After COVID-19 canceled their drama class and final play of the semester, students at John Burroughs High School in Burbank went online to create an original multi-part mystery series.
BURBANK (KABC) -- When John Burroughs High School in Burbank closed its doors due to the pandemic, another door opened for students in the drama department. The result: a project that tested their creativity and their commitment.

The students produced a 10-episode comedic murder mystery called "Act One: Scene Death." The victim in this series is named Kenneth Myers; that happens to be the same last name as the award-winning teacher in charge of the JBHS drama department.

"I gave them the original idea of a murder mystery, and that I would be dead," said Guy Myers. "They were like, 'Mr. Myers, we got this.' And they ran with it!"

With Myers' help, three of the students came up with a concept; then while working from their homes, they doled out responsibilities to the 21 other talented teenagers involved.

"We gave each of the people their own storyline and character and whatnot, and then they wrote their own monologue," said student/actor Jordyn Holt.

"It is really a unique experiment and something really cool," said student/actor Eli Staub. "And it's cool that people that haven't been able to see one of our shows are seeing something that's personal and from us."

And it's very different from the play they were already preparing when classes abruptly ended.

"We were going to do 'Shakespeare in Love'... an adaptation of the movie," said student/actor Wyatt Wheeler. "It was just very exciting but here we are, cancelled. And now we get to do this and it's very exciting"

"The opportunity to write and edit, which I really haven't done much of, has been really, really incredible," said Holt. The episodes are released Wednesdays nights at 8 p.m. on JBHS Drama's YouTube channel, as well as its Instagram page. You can even buy a "virtual ticket" to help support the school's budget.

"We're using that money to support our tech crew and all of our production needs for the next school year," said Myers. "I'm thankful that we're going to have this amazing project to look back on since we don't have our final play together."
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