By Benjamin Short / Staff Writer
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of things were changed drastically, not only in sports but in several other activities as well, with one of those activities being theatre.
During the 2020-21 school year, Hutchinson Community College’s theatre department did a lot of rehearsals over Zoom. Now with a new school year upon us, and most activities at HutchCC returning, they’re finally getting back to some normalcy in the theatre, rehearsing in person and performing for full crowds.
“It’s a great relief to be back to doing theatre the way we all know how to do it best and how it works best … for both the participants and the audience,” said HutchCC Director of Theatre Deidre Mattox. “It is, however, a lot more strenuous than I remember. We rehearsed a lot last year over Zoom, which is challenging in its own way, but also less physically exhausting because you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
“Rehearsing in-person on campus for three hours a night for six to eight weeks is strenuous and requires a lot of stamina, and much greater commitment by all involved. We’re happy to be back to normal, however.”
But the return to theatre is not all normal as the actors still continue to wear masks while rehearsing and performing. This challenges them to find other ways to portray their emotions. “Rehearsing and performing in masks is difficult,” Mattox said. “It removes one of an actor’s primary tools of expression and forces them to find other ways to convey emotion, meaning, and action. And of course, there is still the fear of illness. Actors in a company spend a lot of time together in relatively close physical contact with one another.
“Even before Covid, we worried about a simple cold or flu making its way through the company if anyone got sick. Now we have to worry about a much more serious illness. It’s a tough reality to work with.” The next theatre performance coming up is the “24-Hour Plays”, where students spend 24 hours in the theatre, writing, directing and rehearsing, then performing their projects.