With many in-person events around Waynesburg University being limited or moved to an online format for social distancing, the fall play will be operating differently this year.
According to Edward Powers, professor of theater and director of the fall play and spring musical, the play will be a series of short stories by the famous fiction author, Edgar Allan Poe, and is set to run 90 minutes. The play will take place Nov. 4-7 at 7:30 p.m. and will be livestreamed for audience members with reservations.
“Finding a script that goes along with [social distancing] was not easy to do,” Powers said. “I did come across a Philip Grecian script, and he adapted into a radio play for Edgar Allan Poe stories, thus the title ‘Twisted Tales of Poe’.”
Powers has been able to hold both virtual and in-person rehearsals, and actors must maintain a distance and wear a face mask during their blocking. Powers also commented on the differences of wearing a mask during rehearsals and person-to-person communication, and the potential hindrance it can have on a stage production.
“The other challenge has been on just the way we communicate. I believe everyone on campus is feeling that way,” Powers said. “Since we are having to wear masks, this muffles a voice, this cuts down on facial expression, this changes character and actor communication.”
Powers also suggested the possibility of using plastic face shields during performances due to the transparency, but is still apprehensive due to the high reflectiveness of them.
“Twisted Tales of Poe” will have a total of 10 characters in the show divided amongst the four short stories. Powers also mentions that there are five returning members to the Waynesburg University Players and five newcomers. The four twisted tales include “Tell Tale Heart”, “Cask of Amontillado”, “The Raven” and “The Black Cat”.
“Each of these stories has its own narrator or storyteller with a few other characters mixed in to ask questions to make additional dialogue commentary,” Powers said. “So it’s a lot of singular characters on stage, but in essence we do have 10 characters on stage and they are all involved. I don’t want anyone to think it’s just a one-man show up there.”
Powers has done plays like this in the past, but only as an actor, and he admits there will be trials in doing a different type of production like “Twisted Tales of Poe” as a director.
Powers emphasizes the importance of the arts at a time like this.
“Now, just as much as anything else, we need the arts in our lives. We need to understand a little bit about our humanity,” Powers said. “We’re in a world [where] humanity seems to be pushed aside now. People are angry. People are upset. People are frustrated … The arts make us feel a little bit human. They make us understand a little bit about who we are.”