Theater department presents ‘comedy of manners’ in new production

Theater department presents ‘comedy of manners’ in new production

Jordan Rusche, Lifestyles Editor (She/her)

The theater and dance department is hosting its first production of the season Feb. 25-28.

Their upcoming production “God of Carnage,” which will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25-27 and 2 p.m. Feb. 28, is about two sets of parents who come together to discuss their sons, who have recently gotten into a fight. As their meeting progresses, however, their behavior worsens, until they are “worse than the children,” according to director W. James Wood.

“It starts very polite, and then very quickly degenerates,” Wood said.

The play will be put on by two separate casts, a unique precaution taken to further protect the cast and crew. The casts –each of four actors— have mostly rehearsed separately.

“I’ve been able to take a larger role; while Jim’s working with one cast, I’ll work with the other,” assistant director Dakota Scott said. “There’s some challenges in that you have to keep track of your shows and manage the bouncing between two different casts and making sure everyone is getting the same attention.”

Wood added that while the double cast has its own challenges, it also assures the show can go one if any of the actors get sick or can’t perform.

“(Each cast) has rehearsed independently of the other one, that way a kind of understudy is built in, as well,” Wood said. “If someone needs to be removed for quarantine, we have someone who already has the role memorized.”

The casts will alternate performances: one cast will perform Thursday and Saturday, while the other will perform Friday and Sunday.

Another added challenge caused by the pandemic are the need for masks during both rehearsals and the show.

“It’s a challenge, because theater, in and of itself, is a more intimate art than film or television,” Wood said.

The cast have special clear masks they will be wearing during the show so the audience and other actors can still see their facial expressions.

The theater department has adopted the same protocols that professional theaters have been using. Separate dressing rooms and sets are used for each cast, and the crew wears gloves while handling food and props for each setup.

“It’s a difficult time right now with all these different restrictions that we have, so just being able to communicate clearly and keep everyone safe [is important], because that is our number one priority,” Kelsey Werpy, a theater major and stage manager for the show, said.

These changes are not only affecting the theater department. Wood said the dance department must also maintain social distancing and follow protocols while practicing.

“One thing that has been very important to us is consistency across all of (the department), so if you have a protocol in effect for the costume shop, you want to make sure that in the dance studio that protocol is still being observed,” he said.

Despite these extra precautions and protocols, Wood says the casts have adapted well to the changes.

“I think theater people are inherently already pretty resilient, they have to adapt pretty quickly,” Wood said. “I think everybody involved is just grateful for the opportunity to still be doing what we’re doing right now.”

Betsey Williams, a theater major and one of the cast members, agrees.

“I think it’s definitely taught me some adaptability,” she said. “Theater is always changing, something is always going a little awry or something is just going to be switched, so just keeping that adaptability in mind, that mindset of just going with the flow and trusting the process.”

Tickets for each show can be purchased from Students and community members can purchase tickets for an in-person show or a streaming ticket, which includes a password to access a recording of the show that can be viewed at any time during the production’s run. Tickets for each day are available right up until the start of each show.

Wood hopes audience members will see both casts’ performances, as each cast has their own take on the show.

“If people see two different casts done two different ways, maybe when they watch things in the future they’ll go, ‘oh, that is not the absolute way to do something,’” he said. “I’m just excited that maybe people will see the two different ways, hopefully helping people realize that theater is definitely an art open to interpretation.”

Skyllar Schoening, a communications and theater major and another cast member, also hopes the performances will inspire other students and future actors.

“Hands down, even with the masks on, you can have fun,” he said. “Have fun, let yourself let loose, even if it’s a humor or a drama, feel free to do something that you’re not comfortable with at all.”