By Laci Sutton / Staff writer

The media has been loaded with stories about high school and college athletes having their final seasons of their sports taken away due to COVID-19.

Whether their playing got cut short when the pandemic started, or their seasons were cancelled or postponed as the pandemic has drawn on, the athletes have continued to make headlines.

The fine arts have also faced setbacks with their performances.

The theater department at Hutchinson Community College is making the most out of the world’s current situation and has come up with solutions to allow the shows to go on.

Deidre Mattox, the Director of Theater at HutchCC, came up with a way for the students to showcase their hard work and talent while still keeping the performers and the audience safe and healthy.

HutchCC students and alumni have written a series of short plays and monologues about the world’s current situation. The series is being called “The Pandemic Plays”.

“We’re focusing on monologues and staging plays within the Zoom environment, with actors all in separate spaces relating to each other through screens.” Mattox said.

“The Pandemic Plays” will be streamed live on YouTube for viewers.

Having the performances displayed virtually provides an entirely different experience for both audiences members and the actors. 

As with in-person productions, everyone will experience the shows differently. Having the productions being presented virtually brings a new kind of uniqueness because none of the cast and crew members will even be in the same room.

Emmalyn Gaeddert is a Goessel freshman at HutchCC acting in “The Pandemic Plays”.

“Not having an actual audience there is going to be something we’re not used to,” Gaeddert said. “We’re not television or film so we don’t have laugh tracks or other audience reactions so when there’s awkward silence where we’re trying to fill in the pick ups, that’s been the most difficult in our show to me.”

Marissa Franz is a Hutchinson freshman also acting in “The Pandemic Plays”.

“Sometimes there’s funny moments where usually the audience laughs, and that’s really difficult to try to space out when there is because we don’t have any kind of audience with us,” Franz said.

For the plays, each cast member is physically by themselves, all while performing and interacting with one another.

Shelby Clark, Sedgwick freshman, is also acting in “The Pandemic Plays”.

This is her first play, with her past performances being musicals. Working on a production has taught all of the actors and actresses a new way of acting.

“For me, I have a lot of stage fright, so it’s almost better for me to be on Zoom,” Clark said. “Because I’m focused on what my cast mates are saying to me and how I should properly respond, rather than being on stage and just being scared.”

Technology has its flaws, so it can be expected for these productions to have a few bumps along the way.

“It’s a lot more difficult, because there’s lag which puts spaces between lines where there shouldn’t be and it’s out of our control,” Franz said.

The cast and crew members have worked hard to put these productions together and express their creativity to viewers.

The content addresses real world, heavy topics.

The Pandemic Plays will be streaming live on YouTube on Sept. 24-26 at 7 p.m.   A link for the livestream will be available on the Hutchinson Community College Theatre Facebook page.

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