Clark State's Theatre Arts Program to present second virtual production

When the curtain closed on live events in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clark State College Theatre Arts Program did not exit stage right. In fact, the production team pivoted quickly – and creatively – to live-streamed performances.

The Clark State College Theatre Arts Program will present its second live virtual performance – Silent Sky – adapted from the book by Lauren Gunderson at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 15.

“I’m pleased the Theatre Arts Program has presented two live virtual shows this season,” says Theresa Lauricella, professor of Theatre and Program Coordinator for Theatre & Music at Clark State. “While it has taken a great deal of research and development to do so, I’m happy we didn’t simply throw in the towel, thinking we couldn’t produce theatre virtually.”

Lauricella says while the participants in the program look forward to being in the theater again, the team has continued exercising its craft, enhancing creativity, and learning new skills until it is safe to gather again.

“I wanted to ensure our students had a performance wherein they could learn and work, whether on screen or behind the scenes,” she says. “A bonus also has been the chance for the instructors, artists, and students to approach something new together. We’ve pieced together elements of theatre, film, and television with gaming technology to tell a 2-hour story.”

Lauricella received feedback from non-theater goers who “attended” the fall production of She Kills Monsters.

“They appreciated having the opportunity to watch a theater performance from their living room,” she says. “I’d like to see this continue. While a genuinely incredible theatre experience happens live in the same space with the performers, having audiences watch remotely doesn’t take anything away from the production; it merely allows for another type of theatre consumer.”
 
Taylor Miller will play the role of Margaret Leavitt in Silent Sky. She says it’s strange not interacting in person with other actors and setting up your own acting space instead of having a stage with the elements in place, but it has been beneficial because actors have to adapt to new roles and places. 

“In a virtual setting, I have focused on being aware of my space and how to manage it,” says Miller. “Even though I might not have moved a lot in my space, on screen I could have stepped in front of someone or moved all the way across the screen. I also feel it is important to keep your body language engaging and furthering the mood of the scenes since the audience can’t see your whole body.” 

Scott Stoney is guest director for Silent Sky. He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and a founding member and Resident Artist at the Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, Ohio. Scott also serves on the Theatre Arts Program Advisory Committee.

Stoney says the actors have brought their creativity and their craft to rehearsals and continue to grow as a team.

“This is my first time working with green screen, and I find it very challenging. Both equal parts stimulating and frustrating,” he says. “I believe we have all gained an appreciation for the subtle nuances in human interaction as we mechanically work toward that in this isolated format.”
 
Lauricella says theatre is constantly adapting and believes virtual production techniques will be added to those adaptions moving forward.

“It’s certainly beneficial. We’ve challenged our creativity to make theatre in a remote setting. The production team creates scenes showing characters in one space; however, the reality is the actors are in entirely different places. Further proof that theatre practitioners are creative problem solvers.”  

A recorded encore performance will be viewable online Friday, April 16th at 8 p.m.
 
Streampasses for each event are available at cstap.booktix.com  Adults: $10 (plus fees) and students: $5 (plus fees).
 

Read more articles by Darci Jordan.

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