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UWSP students turn to challenge of pandemic with virtual productions

Metro Wire Staff

When a global pandemic put a halt to live theatre and dance productions, students and faculty of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point turned the challenge into an opportunity.

The result is “In This Moment: Reflections of our Time,” a virtual, original production that highlights the department’s collaborative creativity as well as the personal insights of students in today’s changing world.

Filmed and uploaded online, the show will premiere Friday, Oct. 30, and include a pre-show chat with the cast. The weblink will remain active through Nov. 13 for ticket buyers.

The show consists of nine vignettes with one to four actors each. The pieces were written by students and directed by students and faculty advisers. Students also worked on costumes, lighting, sound, props, filming, and editing.

Students wrote about topics affecting them now, including relationships, climate change, COVID-19, racial equality, and loneliness, among others. Filming took part on stage and on location, including one shot in Schmeeckle Reserve on campus.

Lily Brenner, a senior acting major from La Crosse, was a member of the committee that reviewed submissions. She wrote a piece on how the pandemic affected her summer job and relationships.

“This show empowered students to try new experiences, like writing and filming,” she said. “We were able to process our own perspectives and make art that is impactful and beautiful.”

Creating a whole new season of virtual productions will have a lasting impact on the future careers of theatre and dance students, said Sarah Wussow, a lecturer in musical theatre and faculty artistic director for the show.

“Students are showing us that theatre will continue even in a pandemic,” she said. “Our students are always looking for new ways to create and explore new opportunities.”

“This experience is giving us more insight into our career and how it is changing,” said Brenner. “We are moving with the times and seeing new directions for theater.”

Tickets for the three fall virtual productions are $15 each or $40 for a fall season pass. Tickets are available at tickets.uwsp.edu, and links to the shows will be shared prior to the premiere. Another series of virtual productions will be offered in the spring as well.