To act or not to act- theatre in the age of COVID-19

Radio Play 2020

With COVID-19, many classes and extracurricular activities are finding different methods to engage students.

Carl Lindberg, program chair of theatre at the Ankeny campus, has done just that by using Zoom for auditions, rehearsals, and putting on plays. 

Last summer, the Theatre Department put on a four-part radio play. For auditions, Students interested in participating contacted Lindberg and he sent them the Zoom link. While one person was auditioning, the other participants waited in the online waiting room.

“It worked pretty well. It’s a good use of people’s time, because they’re only at the audition for 10 minutes, as opposed to waiting a longer time in the past,” Lindberg said.

He then added, “We had over 30 people audition. So of course, one or two of them are going to have a technical issue here, and there. But all in all, it went really, really smoothly.”

Every student that got a part downloaded the Audacity app and recorded their part. The technical director then edited all the parts together to create the play.

This fall they will be putting on a contemporary play called “Romeo and Internet,” which will be directed by JC Clementz, a casting director at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. It will showcase what it is like holding classes online and the funny things that can happen during Zoom meetings. 

Lindberg said, “There’s like, four minutes of Shakespeare in the whole thing. It’s mostly their experience with like, ‘How do we connect with each other on Zoom?’”

This spring, the theatre department plans on having live shows again, depending on the situation with COVID-19.

He said,“The plan, as it stands right now, is to limit the Black Box theatre with ten people in a room, five actors, five audience members, and it’ll be about a 30-minute piece. And it’s going to be student-written and devised.”

These plays will show the students’ take on COVID-19 and everything else happening in the world. They will mostly be nonverbal plays with a lot of movement, but some dialogue will be used in certain scenes.

Linberg added, “And then, in April, the goal is to do an outdoor play where social distancing is pretty easy to accomplish, because you can put your pop up chair wherever you want.”

Next summer the plan is to have another outdoor play that is Shakespere-related, if social distancing is still in effect.

Click here for the list of upcoming stage readings, starting Oct. 16.


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