UCC’s theatre department produces “It’s a Wonderful Life” in a new way
With the new rules of social distancing, Umpqua Community College’s theater department is having to change their methods. Instead of plays on stage, they are going to Zoom because the campus at UCC is closed. Despite the pandemic, the theater department is still putting on a show on Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. on Zoom. They are putting on another radio play called “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
“It’s a Wonderful Life”is about a man who contemplates ending his own life on Christmas until his guardian angel shows up to talk some sense into him. With the holidays this heartfelt and warming radio play about life has become a traditional classic. It shows the importance of being a good person to improve life for everyone around.
This play will show on Zoom and stream to Facebook. After it is streamed to Facebook Live, it will be put on to YouTube for everyone to watch as they please. With this new platform of social media, more people are starting to watch the plays coming from UCC. According to UCC’s director of theatre Christina Allaback, people from Corvallis, Eugene, and California were watching the “War of Worlds”radio drama, the last play that UCC’s theater put on during October. There were even actors in the play from those places.
With the campus closed right now, how do the actors rehearse? Just like most classes, the rehearsals are on Zoom. Allaback has been taking classes over Zoom in her own time to make her directing skills more on point for the Zoom platform of plays. These classes are at night so they do not interfere with any classes that student actors may have. Not all have the best internet connection. This can be an issue in both the classroom setting and while preparing for a Zoom play. However, just like in the past, understudies are ready to act if the lead role is dropped from the Zoom session.
To make watching a Zoom play more interesting, Allaback has recruited Chris Lion to help set up a new software called Open Broadcaster Software, or OBS. With this format, Allaback can add effects and sounds to the Zoom session and make the play just that much more interesting. It can also mute and unmute the actors so that they do not have to remember to do it themselves and they can just focus on their acting. This software is used by video game streamers and YouTubers alike. It can help create seamless videos and audios. It also is keeping the spread of COVID-19 down because it is helping people reach out from the comfort of home.
Although there are good things about having to use the Zoom platform, Allaback says that she, “can’t wait to get back into the theater.” She is also looking into the different types of plays available for Zoom presentation. Modern playwrights are even changing the format of their plays to be used for the Zoom platform so people can be expecting more diverse plays coming from the theater department.
Despite the difficulties of not being in person with the actors and directors, many people still want to be a part of the production of the plays. While many theaters are shut down now, some actors are jumping on the opportunity to be a part of something new.
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