Arts & Entertainment Editor
If you’re like me, you probably felt a void with the absence of theatre during the pandemic. All productions were put on pause, Broadway shut down on March 12, a lot was lost. However, things are starting to slowly return to normal. Broadway started productions back up at the beginning of this month, and we’re starting to see how theatre is going to function in our own community.
Whittier College’s theatre department was also impacted by the shutdown, with The Wolves (by Sarah DeLappe) directed by Katie Liddicoat being canceled. Now, the theatre department is back up and running. Here’s what you can expect for the 2021 – 22 theatre season:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, a radio play directed by Gil Gonzales
Yes, you read that right. This production of Shakespeare’s iconic play is going to be a radio drama. A quick summary of the play is that four Athenians run away to the forest only to have Puck the fairy make both of the boys fall in love with the same girl. The four run through the forest pursuing each other, while Puck helps his master play a trick on the fairy queen. In the end, Puck reverses the magic, and the two couples reconcile and marry.
Now, if you’re familiar with the way the theatre department has done radio plays before, throw that out of the window; this is not going to be anything like It’s A Wonderful Life. If you’re not familiar, every year around Christmas time, the department puts on a live radio rendition of It’s a Wonderful Life. Usually, this involves a live audience, but that won’t be the case for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, because of COVID-19 protocols.
The director will be Professor Gil Gonzales, who has experience directing radio plays; he directed the It’s A Wonderful Life production the last two times it was performed. This is Professor Gonzales’ 17th year at Whittier, and he has directed over 25 productions (however, he says it may be closer to 30) during his time here. He’s a man of many hats; not only is he a Theatre Professor, but he’s also the Associate Dean of First-Year Experience Programs. He loves working with students, which is his forefront when it comes to directing plays.
Professor Gonzales has directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream around five or six times before, so he’s a seasoned veteran. However, with directing it so many times, he’s thinking of playing around with the number of cast members. About twelve years ago, he put on a version of this play with the Enceladus Theatre Company. He reimagined it as an 80’s style musical (wild, right?), which was inspired by his childhood. During this time, he thought, “What if I did this with only eight people?” He thinks, from an actor’s standpoint, that this would be a fun challenge, as it would require them to put on different voices to do different roles. He hasn’t settled yet on how exactly that’s going to go, but we can expect some fun things to come out of the final production. It’s yet to be announced on how the play will be broadcasted, but be on the lookout for it October 6 – 9.
Antigone by Sophocles, directed by Katie Liddicoat
If you’ve ever read Oedipus the King by Sophocles, then you’d know that Oedipus had a daughter named Antigone. The summary of the play, as it reads on Amazon, is, “desperate to gain control over a city ravaged by civil war, Creon refuses to bury the body of Antigone’s rebellious brother. Outraged, she defies his edict. Creon condemns the young woman, his niece, to be buried alive. The people daren’t object but the prophet Teiresias warns that this tyranny will anger the gods: the rotting corpse is polluting the city. Creon hesitates and his fate is sealed.”
The production will be directed by Katie Liddicoat. Professor Liddicoat plays many roles in the theatre department; she does everything from teaching, directing, designing, and coaching. She’s also the Managing Artistic Director of Enceladus Theatre Company, which, as mentioned earlier, does the annual production of It’s A Wonderful Life, as well as summer shows. She is a long-time member of the acting unions SAG-AFTRA and Actor’s Equity Association. Professor Liddicoat has taught at Whittier College since 2006.
Professor Liddicoat believes that safety should be everyone’s top priority right now, which is why they are going to have a hybrid production, “Antigone will most likely be filmed and streamed. All safety protocols will be strictly adhered to and everyone will be masked throughout the entire process. We all want live theatre back, which means we all must do our part to keep everyone safe while we work through this pandemic.” You can look forward to seeing Antigone streamed sometime after Thanksgiving break; the specifics will become public once we get closer to the date.
Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Jennifer Holmes
According to Sarah Ruhl’s website, Eurydice “reimagines the classic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice not through Orpheus’s infamous pilgrimage to retrieve his bridge, but through the eyes of its heroine. Dying too young on her wedding day, Eurydice must journey to the underworld, where she reunites with her father and struggles to remember her lost love. With contemporary characters, plot twists, and a script written to be a playground for designers, the play is a fresh look at a timeless love story.”
The play will be directed by Professor Jennifer Holmes, who has been teaching at Whittier for 20 years. It’s uncertain what COVID-19 protocols will look like in March 2022, which is when the play is set to run. Professor Holmes said, “We’ll cross the bridge closer to the production dates.”
Professor Holmes will also be overseeing the one-person shows that are a result of her Performing Non-Fiction class in the Spring. In this class, students will be choosing their favorite author’s works to perform. The Spring will also be full of senior project presentations and the Whittier College Student Film Festival, all of which will be announced at a later date.
We’ve got an exciting theatre season ahead of us! Be sure to keep an eye on your emails for announcements on when these productions will be streaming or hopefully in the Spring, be back in the Ruth B. Shannon Center.
Featured Photo Courtesy of the Ruth B. Shannon Center