Performances in a pandemic: AQ Theatre’s fall productions

Story by Yashowanto N. Ghosh

Photo courtesy AQ Theatre Facebook and Aquinas College Theatre Department Twitter

The Theatre program of Aquinas College, which had its season cut short by the lockdown in spring 2020, is coming back strong this semester with two ambitious shows that raise its goals to new heights. The first show of the 2020–2021 season revisits the play that had to be abandoned last semester after considerable work had already gone into it—Lewis Galantiere’s English translation of Jean Anouilh’s WWII-era French adaptation of Sophocles’s classic, Antigone

The play is a statement for the ages on the problem of unjust authority—Anouilh adapted it to a powerful show about Nazi occupation and French Resistance. The production, as originally planned for last semester, would have been a phenomenal finale to an epic season, but when the pandemic changed everything, director Kyle Westmaas decided to up the ante.

Over the summer, he and Emily Westmaas created a brand new adaptation of the show as a radio play, and the Aquinas play will be its world premiere. The title role has a new actor—AQ Theatre veteran Bryanna Lee in place of Shymia Hill—but most of the cast who had begun rehearsals in spring are reprising their roles in the new show. The show will be available to stream and download on October 1. Kaeleb Cogswell—who plays Creon, the play’s antagonist—confirmed that the show will be free, but will accept donations. 

The second show of the season will also be an original adaptation of a classic of the stage: Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People will be adapted by the cast with title One of Our Own. Ibsen’s play is about a doctor who realizes that the water in his town is poisoned, but his discovery puts in danger the town’s plans of economic advancement by marketing itself as a spa town to attract tourists. The resulting conflict around public health is, of course, of immediate relevance in these times of the continuing pandemic. The show will be performed digitally during November 12–15, the last weekend that we are on campus this semester. Auditions for One of Our Own will be held by Zoom from 6–9 p.m. on September 21–22, with callbacks, if necessary, on September 23. 

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