Salisbury University Theatre adjusts to pandemic

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SALISBURY, Md. — In her book “A Director Prepares, “Anne Bogart writes: “Your attitude towards resistance determines the success of your work and your future. … How you meet these obstacles that present themselves in the light of any endeavor determine the direction of your life and career. … Do not assume that you have to have some prescribed conditions to do your best work.”

The limitations from the COVID-19 pandemic making it difficult for individuals to gather could have been a barrier to live theatrical performances, but that has not happened at Salisbury University, where faculty and students are performing in a virtual world.

Partnering with Tláloc López-Watermann, founder of Light Conversations, a lighting and video design company based in New York, SU’s Bobbi Biron Theatre Program has found success with a new software platform, StreamWeaver, which networks all of the performers’ systems together, solving many logistical issues. SU’s technical team was even able to control theatrical lights, which were delivered to the actors’ residences.

The university first used this technology for this fall’s production of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ “Everybody,” with students performing their roles virtually and continued with other performances throughout the fall semester.

“Putting together a production in this format is a different beast than any of us have been a part of before,” said John Raley, SU assistant professor of theatre. “Despite the pandemic, we are still producing fully realized shows with our students and pushing the boundaries of what is live theatre.”

Matt Saltzberg, SU assistant professor of music, theatre and dance who directed “Everybody,” received accolades from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, whose representatives called the production “astounding” and “cutting-edge.”

“While there are normally dozens of productions happening through the Mid-Atlantic region, this semester SU was one of the few to find a way to put together a top-notch production,” said Mr. Saltzberg.

Several cast and crew from the production received special recognition for their work. Bailey Hanna, Destiny Mosley and Leonard Wright were named ACTF Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship nominees. Savannah Johnson, Brandon Lill, Loralie Szymkow, Hanna and Wright earned certificates of merit for outstanding ensemble performance.

Other certificates of merit went to Natasha Hawkins (excellence in dramaturgy), Imari Pyles (costume design) and Skylar Vann (stage management). Saltzberg also received a Certificate of Merit for Excellence in Directing and Mentoring Student-Artists.

For more information on the theatre department and its virtual productions call 410-548-5588 or visit the SU website at salisbury.edu.