The theatrical production, “As You Like It,” should have debuted on stage last semester. However, due to COVID-19, play director Mark Castle said the department was not able to do a live performance.
“It was supposed to perform a week after spring break, but we never came back,” Castle said. “So, when we returned for this semester, we realized that we couldn’t perform it the way we rehearsed it because of social distancing and mask guidelines.”
Instead, Castle made plans for the play to be filmed in different areas on campus and edited together to create a mixture of a play and a movie.
While filming the play was a creative idea, Castle said each day provided a unique experience.
“It’s been a learning process,” Castle said. “Each day we discover something we did wrong or something we could have improved upon. But, what we have also discovered is all the fun things we can do with the filming, such as doing multiple takes of a scene and taking different shots of a scene. So, it’s just a lot of experimentation.”
While the filming of the play has had its fun moments, there have also been obstacles unique to this semester, such as the need to social distance and wear masks.
“Having to speak through a mask means that you have to enunciate even more than usual, and Shakespearean language can be difficult for some audience members to understand already, so when you have a mask to negotiate with, there’s that much more pressure to make sure that you’re really communicating the intent of the line clearly,” actress Anna Wiley said.
Wiley also mentioned the difficulty of social distancing in this process.
“Distancing is difficult because it’s very natural to want to have contact with your fellow actors; to take someone’s hand, pat them on the shoulder, get in their face during a confrontation,” Wiley said. “But since it’s not safe to be too close right now, we have to explore other ways to connect with our fellow actors, and to make our relationships read very clearly to the viewer.”
Despite the obstacles that actors are facing during this time, Wiley provided advice to those in the world of theatre.
“I think my biggest piece of advice would be not to lose hope,” she said. “Because it feels like our industry is collapsing, and we have no idea when we might be able to perform live on stage in front of an audience again. However, as long as we’re still holding on, still hoping, and still trying to find ways to create and share and tell stories, then theatre is very much alive, and no pandemic can ever change that.”
According to Castle, the department plans to have the film ready by the start of the spring 2021 semester and those interested in the play will be able to watch a live streamed version.