Theater plans change amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Tierra McCall 

Staff Writer 

With many 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 seemed questionable, too. 

“I do not want to commit just yet,” said Quinton Cockrell, a theater professor who has been teaching at Troy for 11 years. 

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. 

“We have been encouraged by the department chair to be very creative,” Cockrell said. “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 theater 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 was strange and definitely takes some adjusting to,” Clendenin said. “When you are singing it takes more work to enunciate.”

Two events planned for the fall semester are the five-week Emerging Voices Festival and Pipers in the Park. 

Emerging Voices is a student-produced show featuring one-act plays written by students and faculty, which include original dance pieces and more. 

The festival, which will take place over five weekends between Oct. 22 and Nov. 22, was given the name Emerging Voices to symbolize the students’ return to campus and “emerging from COVID.”

Pipers in the Park, which will feature the department’s children’s theater troupe, the Pied Pipers, is 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 selling tickets now 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 now be more centered around connecting the department to performing arts audiences through social media. 

One way the Department of Theatre and Dance is working to focus more on social media is by starting a YouTube channel that could soon be available. 

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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