By Brian Martinez
Although the Broadway lights are turned off temporarily, the lights are shining bright in the theatre program in William Peace University.
Students are usually accustomed to performing in front of large crowds of people, but that will not be the case this semester. With large gatherings still being banned, many theatre programs around the nation have gone to virtual shows with social distancing or have been replaced with theatre-based workshops.
At Peace, the fall musical and play have been pushed back to the next fall semester, but the professors of the theatre program are not leaving their students without experience.
Assistant Professors of Theatre, Amy Pridgen and Matt Hodge came up with a plan to allow students to perform in a safe environment. The idea came from a production class that professor Pridgen did when she was in undergrad in college.
It is called the ‘Pacer Projects,’ and students who signed up will be working with the professors the whole semester to create a five-minute long performance.
Students are being challenged to get out of their comfort zone and work on a project that is both demanding and manageable. The program wants students to venture into something that is not taught in a regular theatre class that is offered.
For some students it may be singing a song that is a higher register, and for others it might be working on a technical aspect like costume design.
“This is a really unique opportunity that we get because of the Pandemic. Instead of letting it tear us down, it is a really neat way to build ourselves up,” sophomore Nicole Holmes said “ It is a unique challenge that is teaching us many things that we will use in the future.”
The news of the delayed productions disappointed many theatre students, but most have been very understanding and are excited for the project. For some seniors who are graduating in the fall, these productions were going to be their last at Peace.
Students will be working on the project individually with the help of a mentor
the whole fall semester. They will participate in a final performance at the end of the semester to culminate a semester of hard work and determination.
The projects will be very different from any performance because they will not have the same time crunches as in rehearsing for a two hour long show. This will give students the opportunity to fully dive into their individual performance and learn something that is new and exciting.
With the projects, students will have the opportunity to take their time and truly get to experience and learn what they are trying to accomplish and in the end hopefully learn and develop a new skill.
At the end of the day, the goal for the theatre program is to teach students new skills and assets that they can graduate with and take into the professional world.
“The end goal lies in the student,” assistant professor of Theatre Amy Pridgen said “We want them to be able to work on something really meticulously and take a deep dive and have a sense of accomplishment that comes in trying something you would not think you could do by yourself.”