By Herald on November 13, 2020.
A virtual, and personal, production is taking place with the University of Lethbridge’s Department of Drama.
Responding to the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Drama is moving the stage to a Zoom session as it presents its first Mainstage production of the 2020-21 season online with “Identuality.”
The online performance runs from Nov. 17-21 at 7:30 p.m. nightly and will take the viewer on a moving journey with topics surrounding identity and sexuality, subjects close to all 16 cast members.
“We’ve been working on a really interesting and dynamic piece of devised, virtual theatre,” said director Jay Whitehead. “Devised theatre means we’ve been creating it from scratch. We didn’t start with a script as we typically would in theatre. We actually decided to use the stories of the 16 cast members we have assembled to explore themes of identity and sexuality. The piece contains everything from monologues to original music and poetry movement, really just an exploration of identity in all of its various forms.”
Speaking on the issues of identity is something people hold close to them, said Whitehead.
As such, he added, the cast delved into each cast member’s story and how they identify as much as each cast member was willing to share.
“The process became very personal and personal stories were shared around identities, sexual gender, religious and racial, all kinds of identities,” said Whitehead. “Although I went into the process with some trepidation about how we could produce theatre over a medium such as Zoom, what really surprised me, and ultimately delighted me, is how close we were able to become and how we bonded as a group and how the cast was really able to become an ensemble just as if we were in the same room although we’re scattered across two provinces and a territory.”
Cast member and drama student Kacie Hall enjoyed exploring the stories of the cast members.
“I am queer, but it’s been so cool to hear the experiences of other queer folks and learn a bit more about parts of the LGB community,” she said, adding the challenge of performing alone and bringing the performance through a computer screen as opposed to an audience has been easier than expected.
“I think we were all worried about not being able to perform that cast bond. But it’s been weird because you can definitely sense the presence of other people when you’re going through rehearsals. But normally when we have these things you could be able to offer some kind of physical support, like give somebody a hug when they had a really emotional experience.
“It’s been weird that way in that I’ll be crying in my room and have no one there for physical comfort. But you can still very much feel that comfort from the screen. I think that has been a really unique experience. Nobody was really expecting that to come out of it.”
“Identuality” is a collage of different reflections on different types of identity, said Whitehead.
“Some are solo pieces and some are group pieces, but ultimately it’s a reflection on a theme and we go deep into these ideas and thoughts, and the cast is very brave in sharing their stories. I think what people find is even though it’s being watched by a Zoom it still feels like live theatre because there still is that connection to you through the camera and I think people will be shocked and surprised by that.”
Tickets for “Identuality” are on sale online only at ulethbridge.ca/tickets.
Tickets are $10 per pass with Visa or MasterCard.
Patrons are encouraged to watch the production on a desktop or laptop. Viewing experiences for “Identuality” are not recommended on tablets or smartphones.
Questions regarding ticket purchases or passes may be sent to email@example.com from Monday to Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
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