SELINSGROVE — The show must go on, even if only online.
Susquehanna University’s Department of Theatre will present a virtual showing of “Trifles” and “The Outside” Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
The shows are a pairing of two one-act plays by modernist playwright Susan Glaspell, who pushed literary and sociopolitical boundaries in the early 1900s.
Due to pandemic restrictions, the Department of Theatre will limit in-person attendance to students for academic purposes. Faculty, staff and the general public are invited to live-streamed performances via Zoom. Audiences can get password ticketing for October and November performances by calling 570-372-ARTS weekdays, noon to 5 p.m.
“These one-act plays tell the story of isolated women,” said senior Samuel Emmanuel. “‘Trifles’ and ‘The Outside’ challenge the audience to think critically and attempt answering questions like: What can you tell about a person from their home when they are not there? Is that an accurate depiction of their character? What happens behind closed doors?”
Sophomore Morgan Magdalinski portrays Allie Mayo in “Trifles.”
“She’s known amongst the townsfolk for not speaking an ‘unnecessary word’ for 20 years,” Madalinski said. “I think the lesson that she teaches to the audience is that life goes on, even when we lose the people we love.”
Mayo’s husband’s death on a ship after the couple had been married two years prompted her to fall into her silence, Magdalinski said.
“But when she starts to talk to Mrs. Patrick, another woman who is at risk of following Mayo’s same path of isolation, she speaks up and talks about how life goes on and (how) wallowing in grief is not the answer,” Magdalinski said. “I think she sort of acts as a cautionary tale to Mrs. Patrick and the audience, trying to reach Mrs. Patrick before it’s too late.”
Emmanuel plays the county attorney, Mr. George Henderson, in “Trifles.”
“Mr. Henderson is assertive and very confident in himself,” Emmanuel said. “He may rub people the wrong way at times with his ‘sarcastic speech,’ but he doesn’t believe he is doing anything wrong. He is only seeking the truth or at least his perception of the truth.”
As a hybrid, the play combines live actors onstage along with virtual actors onscreen.
“As skeptical as I was about rehearsing and performing this show completely online, this show is really coming to life even through a computer screen,” Magdalinski said. “I admit, it’s a bit weird to have to look at my wall pretending that I’m speaking to one of my fellow actors, but everyone has been working diligently to delve deep into their characters and present this show in the most lifelike way possible, considering the situation we’re all in.”
“It has been an interesting experience for sure,” Emmanuel said, going on to explain a rehearsal. “I am at home looking at a lamp on my right having a conversation with ‘Mrs. Hale,’ (who is) in the Degenstein Theatre looking at a Zoom screen onstage. This process has definitely pushed me to think creatively about my movements and choices as an actor, especially when limited to a Zoom screen.”
Online acting has eliminated some challenges while replacing them with new ones, Magdalinski said.
“We don’t have to worry so much about where to walk and when,” she said, “but we do have to exaggerate our movements and make sure our internet connection is stable.”
She also noted that people crave entertainment now more than ever.
“I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to be able to act again and talk with such amazing people even if it’s just through Zoom,” she said. “Also, one of the persistent themes throughout both plays is isolation, both physical and emotional, which is something I think many of us are struggling with right now due to COVID. I think watching a play, even if it’s just two one-acts, can help distract people from the uncertain world around us and bring back just a touch of normalcy.”
“In this period we find ourselves in, it is beautiful to have some form of normalcy,” Emmanuel agreed. “Even though it might look different, Zoom theatre allows so many individuals from all over the world to experience stories that they may not have had the opportunity to, right from their homes.”
Cindy O. Herman lives in Snyder County. Email comments to her at CindyOHerman@gmail.com.