Hamline News

Theatre Students Jump From Stage to Video

Theatre productions usually involve sitting in an auditorium watching people act on a stage. However, with the dangers of COVID-19, that is simply not possible.

When faced with the new reality of not being allowed back on stage in person last year, the Hamline University theatre program faculty and students brainstormed ways to continue their work remotely. It was difficult, but soon enough they jumped at the chance to make a short digital film.

The biggest hurdles in creating the film were the Covid-19 protocols according to Jeff Turner, theatre arts professor.

“I would say theatre & dance students are committed to live performance and the ephemeral nature of live performance,” said Turner.

There were also other difficulties regarding the technology needed to create a film, but luckily the department had made investments in the proper equipment and had what was needed.

Another obstacle the students faced was creating their own story rather than working with known scripts. Jeff Turner was inspired by films with multiple characters offering up their own outlook on the world and he knew with COVID-19 protocols they needed scenes with only one character in the frame.

As a solution, Turner brought up the idea of capturing characters living through the summer of 2020 to the ensemble of actors so they could collectively create a film where the characters confronted conflict.

“And, we would cut back and forth between the characters as we learn a little about each one,” said Turner.

The students took on the challenge and created a story together that was completely their own despite the fact that they were isolated.

“Sonder” is a short digital work about how differently people react to a pandemic. The students portrayed diverse characters in their struggle to conform to a new way of life while also dealing with the loneliness and isolation that the shutdown caused.

Even though the film was not what one would think of theatre in a traditional sense, the story unfolds as if you are sitting in the front row of an auditorium.

Turner spoke highly of each and every student.

“We didn’t have to worry if it would be good or what might happen if we were to ‘fail.’ We lept at the opportunity to take new risks in order to develop new skills. We overcame the difficulties simply by doing,” Turner said.

More Productions

After the production of “Sonder” the theatre students have been working on the winter production of “What We Saw, What We Said.” The show will premiere as a zoom performance on Friday, February 19 at 7 p.m.

This one-night-only event is free and reservations are required. The cast will be hosting a short introduction to the piece before the showing begins, as well as a question and answer session afterward. To reserve your spot and the Zoom link, please fill out this form.

Hamline theatre students are also working on a performance for the spring directed by Laura Dougherty. They will be performing selections from Suzan-Lori-Parks’ “365 Days/365Plays.” There will be two batches of performances, one taking place on March 4th and 5th. The other will take place on March 25-27th. Those who are interested in these performances should also contact the Box Office.

To watch their performance of “Sonder” click this link.

Written by Clare Chambers