There’s been no stopping the Clemson Players of the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts in their efforts to curve the COVID-19 closing and generate online content, but their latest production, Molierè’s “The Impostures of Scapin,” (pronounced sca-PAN, to save you the trouble) is their first live production since the shutdown and serves as a lateral move toward refilling the theatre that’s been vacant since early 2020.
The show will give a “new-money Hollywood” spin to a classical French production, said Kelly Burns, a senior performing arts major and the actress in the titular role. Burns is very excited to have returned to the Brooks Center in some capacity, although adapting the show for the live-virtual medium has been far from typical.
“We all basically have our own personal film sets in front of green screens in the Brooks Center classrooms,” she said. “It’s the closest we can get to the true theater experience.”
Despite the expected obstacles to a live production full of stage actors, Burns says the evolution of their process hasn’t been without its advantages.
“Although we typically work with the audience’s reactions, it’s actually a lot less nerve-wracking,” she said. “You literally can’t see everyone watching you.”
Matt Leckenbusch, the director of theatre for Clemson’s Department of Performing Arts, said that rehearsals and recording have posed a new, interesting set of challenges that have required all-hands-on-deck for the production.
“Obviously, safety is our number one priority,” Leckenbusch said. “We’re passionate to be in front of a live audience, it’s what we do. And while TV and video add a lot of unusual layers to our work, we’ve adjusted nicely.”
Austin Wilson, a senior performing arts major and “Impostures of Scapin” stage manager, was responsible for much of the thoughtful execution of the show’s many layers, describing his role as being the production’s air-traffic controller.
“It’s my first time as the stage manager, and in a digital age,” he said. He also resounded the importance of the cast and crew’s safety. “We sanitize every surface of every classroom, every time we set up.”
Like others on the production, Wilson found certain aspects of the virtual show to give the team easier access to the elements of the production, like their communal Google Drive.
“Convenience is king when everything lives in one place,” he said. “It helps to keep everyone on the same page despite being so much busier now, and that’s a big part of my job.”
Lauren French, the show’s director and a recent Clemson alumni, is at the helm of the project. She’s even been able to occasionally direct from home in Greenville, due to the project’s flexibility as a virtual piece, so the silver linings don’t just end with being back in the Brooks Center. She hopes to see lots of positive reactions and is thankful to have brought back the live nature of the show.
“Every production since the pandemic started has been different,” she said, “And being able to do four live shows this time around is a step in the right direction.”
The show’s four live performances will kick off Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. and will run until Sunday, Feb. 28. Then, one of the performances will be posted online for on-demand viewing the following week. For more information and to order your tickets, visit the Brooks Center’s website.