This fall's Theatre Arts production, "What Life Matters" by Michael Hagins, just completed its run, streaming every night at 8 p.m. from November 18-21. The play, which was commissioned by WSU's Theatre Arts Program, follows the story of four young people of color on a single day, as they encounter systemic racism in America. Michael Hagins wrote the play partly based on personal experiences he has had as an African American man, and then created supplemental material from interviews he conducted with the cast, integrating some of their own stories into the script
Professor Eric Parness (director) and Professor James McNamara (lighting design) adjusted from live stage to virtual production, working with students and staff through virtual rehearsals to prepare for a performance, which took place entirely on Zoom, with students acting in their own separate rehearsal spaces. Professor Heather Crocker Aulenback designed the costumes and the scenic backdrops, and Avory Luna, Class of 2022, was the sound designer. Both Professor Parness and McNamara commented on how much there was to learn working with this new genre, which wasn't live theatre but wasn't an edited film, either. Professor McNamara reflected that working on the production was like being at the beginning of his career again!
Following each the streaming of the play, Professor Parness opened up a link for a "Zoom lobby," and people gathered to discuss the play with cast members, the designers, and the director, and one night, the playwright himself. These conversations were thoughtful and wide-ranging and spoke to the powerful effect of the play on its audience members.
Donors are welcomed by the Theatre Department to continue to support student productions. Click here to donate.