AU Theatre Department Debuts Its First Virtual Play

Theatre performance

The show must go on, even during a pandemic. Aurora University’s theatre department debuted its first virtual play in January, “Sonnets for an Old Century,” by José Rivera.

The digital streaming event featured more than two dozen undergraduate and graduate students as cast and crew in a collection of dramatic monologues set in an abandoned theatre. The characters, recently departed souls gathered in the waiting room to the after life, are given one last chance to tell their life story — in the length of a sonnet.

“One of the big challenges of producing theatre during a pandemic was that theatre by its very nature is live,” said Stacy Joyce, associate professor of theatre. “We had to change plans multiple times as we figured out how to best make this work safely.”

Students adapted by conducting rehearsals on Zoom. When it came time to perform on stage, the actors stayed 6 feet apart, and no more than eight people were in the theatre at a time.

“The experience taught students how to be flexible and open to change, how to brainstorm ways to solve problems,” said Joyce. “I also hope they learned that attempting the impossible can be fun.”

AU performed its spring musical virtually as well. “Fugitive Songs: A Song Cycle” by Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen was streamed digitally in April.