Story by Anna Johns, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Sierra Mason
Though the current pandemic has paused theater productions around the country, the Aquinas College Theater department has found creative ways to keep its doors open.
The department just finished streaming pre-recorded performances of their spring musical, Now. Here. This. The musical focuses on life’s big questions such as friendship, loneliness, and death. Throughout the musical, the characters reflect on difficult situations and questions many face throughout their life, and provide thoughtful insight through humor and humanity.
During the filming of the musical, they used various locations around campus along with their main set located at Circle Theater. With help from the scene shop, the main stage was transformed into a green screen. They filmed each actor’s part individually and then edited everything together. There is a first for everything and they had no idea if this would work, but in the end, the final product was successful.
Senior cast member Kaeleb Cogswell describes the filming process of Now. Here. This. as “one big experiment.”
“I can say with confidence, however, that the final show does work and works very well, thanks in large part to the flexibility, patience and talent of everybody involved on and off stage,” said Cogswell.
Though the cast could not perform a traditional production, the opportunity to find creative solutions to their limitations allowed them to create excellent art and continue to perform for the community.
In the past, they have done two shows over Zoom. Earlier in the winter semester, they performed Sez She, a monologue play for women based on Jane Martin’s last monologue. In the fall, they performed One of Our Own, which was a cast-devised adaptation of Henrik Ibsens’ play, An Enemy of the People. Both performances were performed live on Zoom.
“For our two Zoom shows, it was important to me that we performed live, even if virtually,” said Scott Harman, visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre. “I don’t want theatre to ever be overly polished; it’s the little human foibles and new discoveries that the actor has in the middle of performing that make theatre different from other art forms.”
Kaeleb Cogswell is coming back for the fall semester of 2021, but this could be his last show on stage at Aquinas. Though it is a non-traditional show, he said he is “beyond grateful” he was given the opportunity to participate in the production. During his time at Aquinas he has played many different roles that were outside of his comfort zone.
“This show is the closest I’ve gotten to just being myself. I get to be unabashedly gay, and talk about the joys and the insecurities that come up when you spend years unable to share that part of yourself with others. I can’t say I’ve been able to do that before at Aquinas. It’s nice to have this moment now,” said Cogswell.
Next semester the theater department hopes to return to more traditional productions with hopes that the lessons of this year will transfer over.