Theatre department adds to plan for fall semester

SVSU’S December winter show “Home for the Holidays.” Vanguard Photo | Brooke Elward

With school starting in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, a lot of programs have had to make alterations to their normal plans, the theatre department included.

As much as 25 percent of all theatre classes will be moved online. The rest will remain face-to-face.

The real challenge came when deciding how to proceed with their show season, Assistant Theatre Professor Tommy Wedge said.

“I fear it’ll be awhile before we are back in a world where we are all safe and comfortable with 30 actors onstage and 500 audience members,” Wedge said. “We are in the same situation as the rest of the country. We are still programming four mainstream shows and a student production, but all are digital.”

Rehearsals will proceed as normal with special precautions put in place to help keep students safe.

“It will be a combination of masked, socially distant rehearsal at SVSU, along with remote work with individuals over Zoom,” Wedge said.

David Rzeszutek, a theatre professor said another problem the program has
encountered is getting rights for the shows they plan to put on.

“We have some of the shows picked out, but due to the pandemic, the publishing houses have significantly slowed with giving the rights to produce the various scripts,” Rzeszutek said. “Because of this, we are still waiting on some title rights before we announce the shows.”

Rzeszutek said he sees this as an opportunity for students to embrace new learning.

“A lot of thought has gone into this upcoming season and classes with safety as one of our main concerns,” Rzeszutek said. “This season will give us a wonderful opportunity to strengthen what we already teach, and embrace new learning that is now becoming some of the norms in our artform.”

Wedge said he sees it as a time for students to show how flexible and resilient they can be.

“Like the rest of us, they’re swimming with the currents as we all stay afloat in this year of uncertainty,” Wedge said. “But our students are understanding, resilient and professional, and I’m proud of their flexibility and willingness to explore this new landscape together.”

Despite everything, Wedge said he is optimistic about keeping art alive on campus.

“This is turning out to be a year of transition to new models and trying
new things, and like always, art is both reflecting and leading that reality,” Wedge said. “I’m thankful we have a supportive administration determined to keep the performing arts on campus alive and well during this trying time, and we’re excited to explore this strange new landscape with our students alongside.”

Rzeszutek encourages students to audition for the shows.

Auditions for both fall shows will be Sept. 15 from 4-7 p.m. and Sept. 16 from 7-10 p.m. Video auditions will also be considered.

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