Sarah Rouse, Class of 2020
Theatre & Dance Studies Major
Theatre has always been an abstract concept. But who would have imagined a world full of Zoom productions and video performances? Throughout the year we have been able to explore different aspects of theatre-making, such as creative writing, the Droznin technique, songwriting, screen acting, and more. All of our rehearsals and workshops would have soon amounted to a final performance reflecting our experiences at Wheaton. With our Playwright, Cheyenne Bates, and six determined actors, Amelia Biancolo, Akhshaye Lohia, Steven Flowers, Winslow Robinson, Luke Thombs, and Sarah Rouse, we have created a play like no other. Through the direction and support of Stephanie Burlington-Daniels, our talented professor, we were ready to share our creation with the world, and more specifically, the Wheaton community.
However, COVID-19 had other plans for us. It was apparent now more than ever, that the show must go on. As actors and writers, we dove into our work—plotting, creating, and producing. Our play would be seen. The choice to not recreate our full play online was a tough decision to make. Instead, we recorded and edited multiple vignettes to showcase portions of our work. These theatrical pieces include a collaborative “COVID-19 Monologue,” a scene called “Green Eggs or Bust” written by Winslow Robinson, a “Goodbye Wheaton” song written and performed by Sarah Rouse, a graduation speech written and performed by Luke Thombs, and our final script, “Dear Wheaton,” written by Cheyenne Bates. These pieces were posted on platforms such as the Theatre & Dance Studies Facebook page, varying Wheaton College Class Facebook pages, and shared across the internet by many supportive individuals. Theatre is always adapting and changing, and it is our responsibility to take this opportunity to play with new forms of theatre production. Historically, theatre involves human contact and connection; it is our goal to challenge that. As a group, we reached beyond the screen to connect with individuals virtually through our art.
Covid-19 has taught us a new power of theatre. Through this project, we have shown the world that our voices will not be silenced. As seen on Facebook, Youtube, and other social media platforms, artists are still creating, performing, and sharing their content. Not even a global pandemic can stop us from creating. As theatre makers, our senior seminar took this challenge and turned it into a culmination of our experiences these past four years as well as with COVID-19. Our Ensemble Experiments class would like to stress how important supporting local theatres and artists are in this time of uncertainty. And to quote the words of the great playwright Noelle Viñas, “theatre is the art of the present moment.”