Students share their pandemic stories in “2020 Bingo”

2020 Bingo ensemble, from left to right: Faruk Garibovic, Adam Horton, Kaylynn Bousman, Jessica Katzung, JaKharri McKinney. Photo courtesy Krister Strandskov

This spring, the DMACC Ankeny Theatre program performed “2020 Bingo,” a devised theater piece, a form of creative collaborative theater that is developed entirely by the cast and crew. The performance featured stories inspired by the lives of the diverse 10-person cast and crew during the pandemic the past year.  

Masks, temperature checks, and limited seating of five audience members to allow for social distancing were implemented by the theater department in order to keep everyone as safe as possible, according to Program Chair Carl Lindberg. “I was [also] concerned that people wouldn’t want to come see a two hour play. So our target time was about 30 minutes with a max of 45,” Lindberg said. 

After auditions in September, the ensemble began creating an entirely unique and personal performance collaboratively on Zoom until rehearsals began in February. 

The biggest challenge the production faced was in those preliminary months. For cast members Kaylynn Bousman and Faruk Garibovic, it was difficult finding the right way to communicate their experiences. “We were trying to get personal. But I didn’t want to get too personal. Because like, I have family coming. And sometimes it’s hard to be very open in front of people. So, putting on my own words was kind of a weird curve to get over,” Bousman said. 

Garibovic agreed saying, “Usually [you’re] playing someone else or you’re acting roles, but sometimes it’s actually difficult playing yourself.” 

There was only one character, played by Adam. According to assistant director, stage manager, and cast member Lo Stone, “[Adam] was kind of our emcee. He did just a gorgeous job of ad libbing and moving his way through from scene to scene.” 

Stories ranging from topics of online dating, struggling to find toilet paper, fears, and racism, were told in several formats such as musical commentary, dance, spoken word, and more. The production also featured around 200 lighting cues and 52 sound cues, according to Stone.  

Over the course of seven days in February and March, there were a total of 19 shows offered, with the final performance catering to an audience of blind individuals. 

“Not only are we returning to the theater [with this production], but we are doubling-down on being inclusive,” Lindberg said.  

 Cast and crew said they believe “Bingo 2020was an intimate production, with an important place in the theater program’s history, a possible once-in-a-lifetime production. Lindberg said, “Unless there is another moment where society and culture creates something big that needs to be explored, for me right now, I would never risk devaluing [the stories we explored in] ‘2020 Bingo.”

DMACC Ankeny Theatre’s next show will be “The Creative Age,” directed by Lo Stone, and will take place outdoors beginning in May. 

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