Theater plans change amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Theater plans change amid COVID-19 pandemic

Tierra McCall 

Staff Writer

With many are having to adjust for what is arguably the most uncertain fall semester current students have experienced, Troy’s Department of Theatre and Dance has been no exception.

With COVID-19 prompting the cancelation of the second half of the department’s spring production schedule, the fall schedule once seemed questionable, too.

The department’s plans for the current semester are still tentative and decisions are being made to ensure the best and safest way for the students to perform – but they will perform.

“We have been encouraged by the department chair to be very creative,” said Quinton Cockrell, a theater professor who has been teaching at Troy for 11 years.

“We are leaning toward virtual performances that are either pre-recorded or live-streamed.

“I am just determined to give a quality theater education to my students, despite everything that is going on around us.”

To respect university policy and ensure the safety of the students and faculty, everyone in the department is required to social distance and wear a mask – even while rehearsing and auditioning.

New protocols have taken some getting used to, according to Vanson Clendenin, a senior theater education major from Alabaster, Alabama, who also serves as the department’s office and recruiting assistant.

“Auditioning in masks (and distancing) was strange and definitely takes some adjusting to,” Clendenin said. “When you are singing it takes more work to enunciate.”

While some plans are still tentative, the department does have a new approach to the fall season it is especially excited about: the Emerging Voices Festival.

The festival is a series of five weekends of performances between Oct. 22-Nov. 22 and will feature 15-20 original pieces – including one-act plays, dance performances and more – from the department’s students and faculty.

The festival is almost entirely student-written and directed and was given its name to represent the students’ return to campus and “emerging from COVID.”

Pipers in the Park, which will feature the department’s children’s theater troupe, will be the first event of the fall festival and a celebration of the group’s 50th anniversary. It will take place Oct. 22-25 in the amphitheater and will include new and veteran performers.

The theater box office will not open this semester due to social distancing and CDC guidelines, but tickets for the shows will be available online closer to the show dates.

“It’s less about (the) selling (of) tickets and more about marketing and student engagement,” said Graham Butler, a senior theater education major from Dothan, Alabama, who also serves as the box office manager.

Marketing will focus on audience engagement and connecting the department to performing arts audiences through social media.

“Troy Theatre and Dance is committed to bringing the spirit and vitality of this campus and university to our students and audiences, no matter the obstacle,” said department chair Tori Averett. “We’re creative problem solvers who will find a way to share what our talented students and faculty have to offer to this community.”

The students and staff are taking every precaution necessary to guarantee a successful fall semester, no matter what the challenges may be.

“Our biggest priority is safety and being able to stay on campus,” said Taylor Dewberry, a junior dance major from Spanish Fort, Alabama, and the department’s marketing and publicity assistant. “We just want to continue to stay on campus practicing our art and doing what we love with the people we love.”

More information about the department and purchasing tickets for productions can be found on the Troy University website.

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