Grace Newton & Sarah Dube

The FSC Department of Theatre and Dance will open its fall season next week with the Shakespearian comedy “As You Like It.” 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the theatre department cannot have a live audience, and with specific streaming rules in place, the shows of this season had to be altered in order to be usable. This production has been adapted by director Paul Bawek, and includes such changes as genderbent roles. The department is working with broadcast professors from the communication department to live-stream the show, which will be available on the FSC Festival of Fine Arts YouTube page.

Sophomore musical theatre major Amanda Townes plays Sylvia, previously Sylvius. This is Townes’ first mainstage production at FSC.

“It’s been a blast,” Townes said. “I love working with Paul and the cast. Also, just being back to doing shows after so long is amazing. It’s been amazing to be able to use the space we have, and I’ve loved every second of it.”

The cast of “As You Like It” rehearses socially-distanced in the Buckner Theatre in preparation for their first ever live-streamed performance.

Townes acknowledged that this show has been challenging, seeing as all of the cast and crew are required to wear their masks and social distance throughout the entirety of the show, including during the performances. 

Townes said, “It’s [the guidelines] something extra that you wouldn’t normally have to keep in mind. Especially when it comes to characters where you’d normally need to hold their hand or give them a hug, because we can’t have physical interactions with each other. We also have to be more mindful of facial expressions because they’re harder to read, so we have to be more intentional with our actions.”

Stage manager and senior, Briana Refino, has a different perspective on the challenges that have been presented, due to her backstage role. 

“I have to think about little things like how I am going to communicate with my Assistant Stage Manager during a rehearsal if we’re sitting six feet apart and there’s a scene going on that we don’t want to interrupt,” Refino said. “Production meetings are also over Zoom right now, so I have to send out links to everyone for that each week and try to work through any technical difficulties we may encounter.” 

Live-streaming the production has also presented unique challenges. As the first show of the season, “As You Like It” will be setting the precedent for the remainder of the school year. 

“We have to tailor everything to the camera,” Refino

 said, “We have to make sure the blocking will look good for the camera, resolve sound issues that may arise, make sure the lighting will have the same effect on camera as it does in person, etc. There is just a lot we have to keep in mind that we never had to worry about before.”

Photos courtesy of Anna Weaver

Townes has a positive perspective of the new live-stream theater experience. 

“It’s really exciting that our audience can view this production from wherever they are,” Townes said. “You don’t have to worry about being at Buckner and you can just sit back with your popcorn in bed. It’s a unique and different viewing experience that I think will be a lot of fun.” 

Challenges aside, both Townes and Refino are optimistic about the show’s rehearsal process, each commenting on the resilience and mindfulness of the cast and crew. The “As You Like It” live streams will be available on the FSC Festival of Fine Arts YouTube page Oct. 10, 11, 17 and 18.

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