This spring, Dartmouth’s theater students and faculty have been practicing the old adage “the show must go on.” And even as the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented on-stage performances in front of live audiences, the department’s annual showcase of senior honors theses and other student productions kicks off this month with six works remarkably adapted to the virtual environment of the moment.
“So much is missing in remote learning, but facing no choice, I think that we have all been surprised not just by what we can accomplish in this environment, but how much our students crave a creative medium for their voices to be heard,” says Dan Kotlowitz, the Leon E. Williams Professor of Theater and chair of the Department of Theater.
It hasn’t been easy.
“Much of what we take for granted in making theater in a normal world has become enormously complicated,” Kotlowitz says. “The simple act of one character knowing which direction to look when talking to another character, the handling of a prop that must appear as the same item for four different characters, and simply making all the characters seem like they are in the same room, lit by the same light, are all complex and convoluted problems.”
But the new mode of working has pushed students, faculty, and staff to find creative solutions to “master the stagecraft necessary to create online theater,” Kotlowitz says.
“I think that it is fair to say that the faculty, staff, and student response to this crisis has been remarkable,” he says. “The sheer energy of these creative collaborations—in the classroom and in production—has held together our community that has been so threatened by the remoteness of our current world.”
Tune in to some of the results over the next two weeks. The descriptions of each production are posted on the theater department website:
Sunday, May 24, at 2 p.m. Streamed performance, followed by post-show discussion
“A remote performance project written by Nick Gutierrez ’20, produced by Giovanna Boyle ’20, and directed by Adam Riegler ’20. As the world reaches its final days, three scholars are tasked with the impossible: deciding which pieces of art to preserve forever, and which to leave behind to face certain destruction. An experimental theatrical performance produced and performed using distance technology.”
Tuesday, May 26, at 8 p.m. Performed via Dartmouth College Radio
“A remote performance project created and performed by Sophia Kinne ’20. Not quite a play and not the best fit for radio, but 100 percent radio play. Guaranteed more entertaining than a Zoom call and more personal than you bargained for, this show has everything you could want: a little bit of music, a lot a bit of talking, and contemplation on fear and dying. Tune in for the existential questions, stay tuned for the theater.”
Friday, May 29, at 8p.m. Streamed performance for invited audience only, followed by post-show conversation.
“An honors thesis project performance created, written, and performed by Kerrigan Quenemoen ’20. A senior in high school grapples with her past while stuck in isolation. Battling deteriorating mental health and loneliness, her reflections lead her into an uncertain future. This is a one-woman work-in-progress.”
Saturday, May 30, at 2p.m. Streamed performance, followed by post-show discussion
“An honors thesis project performance created by Hannah Haile ’20. A research exploration and dance showcase highlighting the work of the eight black women who have choreographed shows on Broadway. The research exposes intersectional oppression in theater and the experiences of these women as they open doors for future black female choreographers. The showcase features all original choreography to songs in musical theater from the shows these women have worked on.”
Sunday, May 31, time TBD. Live-streamed play reading, followed by post-show discussion.
“An honors thesis project performance written by Sam West ’20. This is the story of a woman, no ordinary young girl, for God blessed her with an incredible power. In a reimagining of the biblical narrative of Samson, this play explores faith, power, activism, and claiming one’s place in the world.”
Release Date TBD, May 2020
“A remote performance project curated and produced by Naomi Lam ’21 and written and recorded by other Dartmouth students. An audio collection of stories, monologues, and other original pieces documenting personal experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
For the latest information on Dartmouth’s response to the pandemic visit the COVID-19 website.
Hannah Silverstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.