In response to the global pandemic, the Department of Performing Arts has responded with a reimagined 2020-21 production season full of creative innovation, collaboration and new technology.
With our first production, we’re focusing on new play development by announcing an exciting new award and launching a new partnership. Pheromone, by Rachel Graf Evans, is the inaugural winner of the Elon University Acting Program’s New Play Award in cooperation and partnership with the Hollins University MFA Playwriting Program. We are extremely excited to begin this new partnership with Hollins’ esteemed program and explore the educational synergies between us.
As this play is a fresh, new work in development, the playwright has been very involved in the production process, participating in casting, attending rehearsals, and tweaking the script for the digital medium – even writing a brand-new character for our production! The students have responded brilliantly to the challenge of being involved in a production that is continually evolving.
The characters of the play are in search of romance, affirmation, fulfillment and adoration; allowing attraction to guide them. Their fundamental need for connection and intimacy drives the play. So how does one stage theatrical intimacy and establish sincere connection when using a purely digital format? Can physical attraction and chemistry be portrayed over Zoom?
In our efforts to answer these questions, after months of caution, quarantining and social distancing, we became more keenly aware of how vital the ability to connect, human-to-human, really is.
We relate to the character’s yearning with our own yearning for the days when we could hug a friend, shake hands or see one another’s faces at the local store. Such connection, intimacy, touch and physical proximity seem like an absolute luxury now.
With a firm goal of safeguarding student health and learning, we undertook the pioneering of creating an all-virtual live production. This process has been full of new challenges around every corner as we’ve sought to take our existing knowledge and experience as theatre makers into a digital realm. It has required creativity, bravery, commitment and extreme innovation on the part of all involved to bring you what you will see here tonight.
As I remind students in class, “limitation breeds creativity.” This case has been no different. Our department has partnered with School of Communications to harness new software and technology to bring you this live performance. The actors have learned to adapt their performances for the camera, while designers and technicians have undertaken new responsibilities, learned new skills and sought creative solutions to challenges met at every phase of the process.
The behind-the-scenes peek at our process reveals untold hours on Zoom, moments of frustration followed by jubilant breakthroughs, continual flexibility, patience and lots and lots and lots of deep breaths.
We hope that you enjoy this truly one-of-a-kind performance!
Max Negin, Rachel Graf Evans, Todd Ristau, Fred Rubeck, Angie Roppo, Lauren Kearns, and Kimberly Rippy
|Assistant Stage Manager
|Assistant Stage Manager
|Costume Shop Manager
|Heidi Jo Scheimer
Rachel Graf Evans