Truman theatre department adapts to COVID-19 conditions

Actors prepare for a production of "Inlaws, Outlaws, and Other People (That Should be Shot)" last year. Photo provided by Truman State University theatre department

With school resuming during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Truman State University theatre department has had to change how it produces shows to fit restrictions. 

This semester, one show will be performed outside following social distancing guidelines and the other will be livestreamed via Zoom

The outdoor show, “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” will have two different casts as a preventative measure, but will otherwise see little change to the show. 

The rehearsal processes all involve wearing face coverings. 

“We just finished our table work, but all of it occurred via Zoom, so we were all in our separate apartments and working together,” Director David Goyette said.

Although there are little changes to the show’s content, there have been adjustments to how the show is performed such as social distancing and limiting physical contact. 

Goyette said there will be a hug cut from one of the scenes and a couple in the play will no longer hold hands, but he said he does not believe these actions hold too much significance to the story. 

“I like them, I think they’re important to the play but they’re not so important to the play that I think you can not do them,” Goyette said. “We’re sort of negotiating with the playwright’s agents to make sure that’s okay.”

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Senior Courtney Klein, who is playing Nora in “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” said that there would have to be a few more precautions while being outside with things such as costumes and props because there will be more of a chance of getting the items dirty. 

Klein also said that this performance will be different in more ways besides the COVID precautions. This show will be performed in the round with the audience all around the stage, instead of the normal proscenium and thrust performances. 

Costume Director Michelle Winchester said when the actors get cast in shows, they come to her and she measures them, which would be breaking social distancing rules. 

“I would be breaking social distancing guidelines again for everyone in the cast,” Winchester said. “We felt that that was just too much danger to put me and all of our acting students in. So I’m making adjustable costumes right now that anybody could put on so I don’t have to touch the person.”

The second show, “Ghosts in the Machine,” will be livestreamed on Zoom for the audience to view from their homes. 

“We’re still kind of figuring out the very specifics of it, but essentially we are going to use something like Zoom in order to bring all the actors into the video feed,” Director Brad Carlson said.

The idea is that the actors can maintain distance, so they will all be working from separate spaces within the theater.

The show will be nearly the same, but there have been parts from the script that needed to change and there will be no physical contact. 

“Originally I was going to be directing a musical and I really just couldn’t find something that quite worked in this format and still provided a really meaningful experience for our participants, for our students,” Carlson said.

Carlson said the reason that this script works is because the company gave the rights to stream it, and the little amount of physical interaction that it had was easy to remove without taking away from the story.