Theatre: ‘Big’ and ‘Little’ updates, changes bring new avenues of art

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Vicki Kirkley

Theatre students use precautions while they meet each other through 'speed dating' to begin their program. "I think this year and last year are going to be drastically different, and I think this year due to COVID-19 we will have to be more safe and cautious of what we are doing," junior Jessie Kuhn said. "However, I think we can still have fun like the social today (August 26). We were safe with the masks but still had fun while trying to be as normal as possible."

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With new precautions in place, the theatre department has had to welcome new changes this year, specifically with the department’s back-to-school social.

Prosper Theatre put together a Big and Little social, for both in-person and online students last Wednesday, Aug. 26. This was their first hybrid social, and the officer board is planning to hold many more like it in the future.

“I think the social went good,” junior e-learner Emma Lynch said. “I hope that theatre later this year will be in person.”

Lynch is the only online “big” and is looking forward to assisting the online “littles,” as well.

The theatre officer board has prepared for the social for the past few weeks. They started with a few of their own Google Meets, before having one with the future “bigs,” for “Big Orientation,” during Eagle Time on Tuesday, Aug. 25. At this meet, they discussed the responsibilities of being a “big,” how to help “littles” when needed and discussed how the social was going to work.

“The Big and Little program serves as an opportunity to mentor or be mentored by someone confident in their knowledge of the department,” junior Marlee Parrish said. “As a ‘big,’ your responsibility is to lead your group and be there for them if need be. ‘Littles,’ this is your chance to get to know the department and feel even more included and eliminate some of your nervousness.”

The senior officers and “bigs” took measures to include e-learners in the social event.

As they participate in a theatre activity, senior Charlize Fedele, sophomore Madyson Heaton, junior Mattie Jacobs, freshman Jordan Gabriel, and junior Bee Mackay discuss while ‘speed dating.’ “I think (the social) went really well,” senior Emily Mongaras said. “I think this year is obviously different then previous years, but overall a very interesting experience as well as really tapping into our on-screen acting.”

“First off, I wanted to say that while the social wasn’t completely planned out, when the social started, all of the ‘bigs’ took charge and made the social a fun and inviting place for all of the newer students,” senior officer Grant ‘Bruce’ Caldwell said. “With the online students it was definitely a challenge more so than organizing the event. Yes, we can add all of the online students to a Google Meet call, but this doesn’t really add them to the event. While I wasn’t making sure they were involved during the social, I can say that they are being taken care of now and are being assigned to each other as seen fit.”

The department has had to adjust their upcoming fall play, “Almost, Maine,” to be completely virtual. The director of the play, teacher Jamie Joyce, is holding auditions for the production through Flipgrid, much like how auditions for the higher level theatre classes were last spring. The cast is set to be announced on Aug. 31, and they will have a virtual read through Sept. 1.

“There’s a lot of unknowns, but we’re confident with the students that we have and the desire that they have to do good theatre,” Joyce said. “They are going to be able to have an amazing show, whatever that may look like.”

Junior Carrington Langston is going into her third year with the department, and has had to adjust to the department changes very quickly.

“As for the online auditions, they aren’t preferable,” Langston said. “However, it takes away a lot of the nerves that I have during the audition because I get to do it from the comfort of my own home.”

As they keep masks on and maintain space, junior Lizzie Myers, junior Abigail Berry, freshman Keely Victor, and freshman Nelly Gad meet with and get to know each other. “I think the social went really well,” junior officer Carrington Langston said. “I think that COVID-19 has made the socials smaller, so we have more time to do more things.”

As far as COVID-19, the upcoming productions and Prosper Theatre as a whole, Theatre Department Head Vicki Kirkley does not think that there will be an issue.

“Right now, we are working toward virtual productions,” Kirkley said. “Our goal is to continue to create art and to create magic, but COVID has definitely affected us, because it means that we are taking a different route to do that. It does not mean that we are going to quit with our dreams. We are going to continue to grow them, and we are going to just try a new avenue of creating art.”