The 2021 senior class in the Theater Department at Southern Illinois University reached into the depths of their creativity to devise a safe plan to showcase their talents to friends and family for their senior project this year.
The culmination of four years of study for both actors and technicians will be enjoyed by family and friends who have supported the eleven students throughout their careers at SIU — as well as the general public — but in a different format than usual due to the pandemic.
In the Senior Seminar course at SIU, students are required to complete a final project that is usually in the form of a live stage production. Performers normally get the opportunity to display their talents in both spoken dialogue and song and dance, while stage technicians can demonstrate their talents in lighting, prop handling, and sound operation. However, with COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, the opportunity for a production with a full, live audience was severely diminished.
“Because of coronavirus, we were told we either had to do (the production) in front of just faculty and staff in our department or do a livestream. We wanted to also share it with our friends and family because they’ve been along the ride with us the last four years, as well,” said Michelle Macrito, a student in the senior class.
The potential loss of the showcase was too devastating for the senior class, and to avoid giving up this important rite of passage, plans for the livestream began.
After studying successful online events from other colleges and regional theaters, the classmates began prerecording each of the separate acts for the project to keep with social distancing guidelines. Many extra accommodations were put in place and plans to make filming safe for everyone involved an extra bit of inventiveness.
The production is titled “Streamin’ the Dream” and at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, viewers can tune into its YouTube debut from the comfort and safety of their homes. The senior showcase class consists of eight performers and three technicians, so the production will include a total of 11 monologues, six songs, and three tech portfolio reviews. The title comes from the idea that each of the students were able to choose performances that are their dream roles.
“I feel like it most definitely encouraged a more upbeat attitude especially with so many things having to end with theater right now this is something people are really looking forward to,” said Macrito.