Anisha Hu | WITH PERMISSION
The fall play will address climate change and environmental issues through a set of monologues and with specially-built virtual sets.
The drama program is partnering with environment groups such as the Marine Mammal Center and Wildcare to further educate and enhance student performances, according to Theater Programs Director Margaret Grace Hee.
“Zoom seems like the most effective way to do something for a live audience right now,” Hee said. “I think there is still value in giving students the opportunity to perform live.”
Rather than physically building sets, stage crew will design virtual backgrounds and lighting. Directors will assign one or more stage crew members to an actor with a monologue, and they will be responsible for planning that scene, according to Theater Manager Chris Miller.
“So we’re starting with the premise that Zoom is its own medium and we want to be able to use Zoom like you would any tool to help tell our story,” Miller said. “We are going to look a little bit at some of the history of film and talk a little bit about what makes a given visual framework or not.”
The virtual production offers a new opportunity for students to experiment with lighting, video and photography.
“I’m insanely excited and I think right now more than ever we need art and we need this form of expression,” student director Anya Hilpert said. “It’s so important that people express themselves and for people to be able to come together as a community during this time, which I think are two things theater will just always be able to provide no matter what.”
The Zoom platform also allows a chance for students to write original monologues and direct them. In the upcoming fall production, actors will perform three student written monologues, according to Hee.
“[Hee] has really allowed for a lot of student driven work to happen this year and we have a couple student writers,” Hilpert said. “She is really letting the students take the lead.”
Despite the shelter-in-place order, incoming freshmen are already making friends and developing a sense of community within the theater program.
“It’s been fun,” freshman Alexandra Chua said. “Even though it’s hard to bond with people over Zoom I’m having fun working with them.”
The show is currently scheduled for Oct. 29 and 30. Audience members will be able to attend the play through a Zoom link that will be shared in an email closer to the performances.
“Even if we’re not in the same space, I’ve noticed in auditions, students are still saying how nervous they are, and nerves are a good thing,” Hee said. “You still have the same feeling as you do when you perform and you still get the same acting high afterwards.”