‘Theater Comes Back’ Despite ‘Plague’

Curtain+call+for+%22The+Drowsy+Chaperone%22+performed+on+Nov+21-24%2C+2019+

Dominic Augustine

Curtain call for “The Drowsy Chaperone” performed on Nov 21-24, 2019

Adam Myers, Web Editor

The theater staff and MU Players are continuing performances of all kinds inside and outside of the Lemmond Theater during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We will work with whatever we have to do to make things happen. That is the thing, we can’t just say that this can’t happen,” said Dr. Rebecca Steinberger, the new program and academic director for the theatre.
The Lemmond Theater is imposing guidelines mandated by the CDC with every event. Only 25 people are permitted in the theater at one time, including actors and technical assistants.

“The general morale has been kind of crazy,” said Alec Aversa, senior mathematics and information technology major and theater assistant. “All of us at the theater have crazy ambitions and we are all trying to do something extravagant, something really awesome that we can do and put on for the community.”

Performances and events will be live-streamed from the official Lemmond Theater YouTube page to enable other viewers to see the performances virtually once maximum capacity has been reached inside the theater.

Kayli Boyes (left) and Analiese (right) perform on stage during the one act plays. (Kailene Nye)

“We did have to reach out to outside resources for live streaming, but we plan to upgrade our equipment so that we can live stream and be more prepared for events in the future,” said Aversa.

Some events have already been hosted in the theatre, including the nurse and white coat ceremony and two student one-act shows, which were originally planned to be showcased last semester.

“There was a class last semester, ‘Intro to Directing,’ where all the students directed their plays but had to cancel the shows because we went into quarantine. When we came back, there were still a couple of students that wanted to do there show socially distanced, so we were able to do that,” said Aversa.  

Steinberger assures the community that the recent restrictions allow the theater staff to put on performances they have never done before, such as a new Fall Foliage Sundays event.

“The theater is interacting with the arts council. Students will read poetry and reenact scenes from plays in the Shakespeare garden and the Art Gallery,” she said.

Steinberger also hopes to bring back the  Theater on the Green, a popular past performance series that stopped in 2004.

“We would have theater companies from D.C. and Virginia, big Shakespeare companies and come here and offer these plays. Members of the community would come and have fun outside. The amphitheater wasn’t even here when it first started,” said Steinberger.

Steinberger also plans to change the academic theater program as a whole, with a possibility of the addition of a new theater major.

“I’m all about the study,” she said. “I can provide the classes, instruction, and opportunities.” 

Steinberger plans to connect with theaters in New York, Philadelphia, and the Washington D.C. area.  

“I am a member of the Shakespeare Globe theater and they like to outreach. Maybe, just maybe we can get students in there to have that experience with a big theater. If they want to pursue a career in theater, post-COVID-19, they may have that opportunity,” she said.

With the fear of COVID-19 and its effect on college-campuses, the theater staff still wants students to join the program if they are interested.

“In Shakespeare’s time, theaters would often close quite often for plague, for other reasons, too,” Steinberger said. “But the theaters then re-opened. Theater comes back, and there is always a place for theater, as well as all the arts. We have to keep the optimism.” 

Aversa, who is an active member of the MU Players, said the theater program provides a unique community for students during a pandemic.

“Theater people are quirky, but they are also very genuine and they are the type of community that if they are the people that you are here with, that it doesn’t matter what you are doing. As long as you are with them and you are integrated into this community, then I think that is all the more reason to join something like this,” he said.

A group of students rehearse for their one act play performance (Kailene Nye)