South Texas College Theatre has taken a leap into the virtual world this season.
While patrons cannot come together in the college’s beloved performance spaces at the moment, STC Theatre have figured out creative ways to produce some innovative and entertaining productions for folks to watch in the comfort of their own home, or wherever their desire to see theatre strikes them.
“Our department began planning last spring, when the shelter in place orders where initiated, because we knew gathering together would take some time and we knew how theatre could keep people connected and entertained,” says Drama Department Chair Joel Jason Rodriguez. “Theatres and educational programs across the country are thinking outside of the box and thinking about how we can rethink performance in a digital age. Over the summer, the department transformed our Black Box Theatre into a recording studio space with sets built for the first two projects currently in production.”
To kick off its season, STC Theatre has created a website, www.southtexascollege.edu/theatre/ as a hub to connect and interact with their patrons and house their virtual productions.
The first production is a re-envisioning of the Cooper Cabaret, a final event scheduled for last spring, now as a virtual monthly series, Rodriguez said.
“Daniela Rodriguez, our Theatre Support Services Technician, is directing this project and is working with some of the performers who were originally set to perform. She is currently recording and editing their performances, and the footage we have seen thus far is amazing,” says Rodriguez. “The series celebrates the artistic talent we have in the Valley and showcases their talents beyond geography and borders as we move into the virtual world.”
The second project currently in production focuses on the fusion of theatre history and sketch comedy in a talk show format titled Let’s Talk Theatre.
“Marcela Garza, our drama instructor, is directing this project as well as co-writing the scripts with our drama major Connor Lara,” Rodriguez said. “This monthly series is a funny exploration of theatre history, pop culture, and our current situation. Theatre folk will really appreciate Garza and Lara’s approach.
The final project for the fall is Euripedes’ Medea adapted and directed by Theatre Support Services Coordinator Roberto De Hoyos. De Hoyos has re-imagined the classic drama and will produce a four-week series which will premiere in late October.
“His last production of The Taming of the Shrew, which he also adapted and directed last year, was such a huge success that we were all excited to see how he would approach Medea as a virtual production with specific social distancing protocol to follow,” Rodriguez said. “What he came up with is incredible. We can’t wait to share it with everyone.”
In the spring, STC Theatre adapts another classic into a dramatic series with Shakespeare’s Othello adapted and directed by Marcela Garza.
Othello will premiere late Spring and will follow a similar series format as Medea.
An as yet untitled final production of the season is scheduled for June 2021 and will be directed by Rodriguez.
“We haven’t selected a play for that slot yet, but we will announce it once we know what it is. We chose to wait to announce this production because we felt we should wait to see how our current situation develops regarding the virus, social distancing, and protocol,” Rodriguez said. “We’re seeing how things progress and develop in the next few months and we will then know how we will approach this production.”
The Drama Department at STC hopes it can re-open the Cooper Center for live production events by summer, even at reduced capacity, with live streaming occurring simultaneously. The department says it remains ready to continue with completely virtual productions if need be.
“The safety and well-being of everyone will always be priority for us. Live or virtual, we will continue to create and produce cutting edge and entertaining work for the Valley,” Rodriguez said.
“With a hold on live theatre performances, the revenue we would generate from season passes and ticket sales are currently absent but those ticket sales help fund our productions and our scholarship, the Dr. John F. Carroll Drama Scholarship, throughout the year,” he said. “We hope the virtual productions we’re putting out there lets our patrons and the community know we’re here, we miss you, and we are still producing incredible work for you.
“We are anxiously waiting for the day our theatre spaces are filled with our friends again,” says Rodriguez.
Community members interested in supporting STC Theatre’s creative venture can do so by sending a donation either for their program or their scholarship at www.southtexascollege.edu/go/theatre. For more information about STC Theatre, please call (956) 872-2301.