When brainstorming an idea for how to present theater to the public while following COVID-19 safety guidelines, Emmy Kreilkamp said she knew she wanted to try to think outside the virtual play platform.
“So many of us spend so much time online that for me the prospect of another entirely virtual experience was unappealing,” she said.
It is hoped that “A Spotlight in the Dark,” solo performances performed in the Wickstrom Studio Theatre and streamed live for just three nights may be the solution. Playing at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, the show will hopefully give audiences more of a feeling of actually being at a live theater performance, even though they are not possible right now, Kreilkamp said.
“I basically put together this show based on what I thought was possible,” Kreilkamp said. “I found it really rewarding and I enjoyed working with actors and figuring out how to put together theater in a safe way.”
Like theaters nationwide, Centralia College Theatre has been severely impacted by COVID-19. In the early days of the campus-wide shut down, the cast of the spring musical “Into the Woods” was already rehearsing but that show ended up being canceled several weeks later when the shutdown persisted. In planning for the 2020-2021 academic year, Kreilkamp had conversations with school administrators about what was possible for theater with an emphasis on keeping everyone safe.
Kreilkamp said the inspiration for “A Spotlight in the Dark” came from a performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August where a one-person play was performed and streamed live. Most courses at Centralia College remain virtual this year but Kreilkamp said there is the exception of a few small, in-person classes that are allowed if they have a lab component that needs to happen in person. One of these courses is her beginning acting class. She also said that Centralia College instructors are allowed to take off their masks on campus if they are alone in their own office with the door closed. With these two protocols in mind, Kreilkamp proposed and was approved to offer a show where the actors and actresses are alone in the Wickstrom Studio Theatre, with the door closed so they could take off their masks for the performance, with a tech crew running cameras from outside in the hallway to stream their performances live to audiences.
The idea was approved by administrators and auditions were held via the virtual platform Zoom in September. Much of the rehearsal process was also online. Kreilkamp said rehearsing on Zoom is difficult because of the delays, which gives it a somewhat stilted feeling. Kreilkamp said she was able to hold a few individual rehearsals with each of the actors and actresses to let them block their pieces and get the feel for performing in the space.
“Being able to be back in the theater and work on their craft, I know was something they were really excited about,” she said.
The cast of “A Spotlight in the Dark” includes current and former Centralia College students as well as community members: Hayden Bigelow, Christian Bolduc, Shea Bolton, Amiera Brown, Annika Catron, Elizabeth Dunn, Judah MacNeely, Joseph Pettit, Emily Cole and Danika Rozhanica. Kreilkamp said the entire cast worked on the subject matter for the show, which is a combination of original monologues and selections from established dramatic works, including: “Twilight: Los Angeles,” “I Am My Own Wife” and “The Laramie Project.” Some college theatre departments are producing shows this year based on COVID-19 but Kreilkamp said this cast was not interested in that subject. Instead, they chose themes of social justice, racial inequality and other injustices in the world.
The three live performances of “A Spotlight in the Dark” are free and open to the public on the Zoom platform. Kreilkamp said she wanted to offer the performances to the public without a ticket price because the performances took relatively little to put together and she hopes audiences will attend virtually and support the cast and the messages they offer. The show has a running time of about 90 minutes and includes adult language and subject matter, so is likely not suitable for young audience members.
Kreilkamp said given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state, she does not believe that any kind of in-person rehearsals or theater performances will be possible for at least the rest of the school year. She is hopeful the theatre department may be able to offer some sort of show in the late spring. One show she said she has been drawn to is called “The Living” by Anthony Clarvoe, a story that juxtaposes the AIDS epidemic with the Black Plague.
“All of the plans are tentative and based on the pandemic,” she said.
If you go ...
What: Centralia College Theater presents “A Spotlight in the Dark”
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 3-5
Where: Zoom.us Meeting ID: 94497800938
Tickets: Free and open to the public