Despite the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic, the PSU Theatre within the department of communication was able to present the Bacchae by Euripides, directed by Linden Little, professor of communication.
The production was available for viewing from Oct. 22-25 on Pittsburg State’s Vimeo (pittstate.tv) and tickets were $6 or free with a valid PSU ID. The play by Greek poet Euripides is based on the Greek tragedy of King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agave, and their punishment by the god of wine Dionysus. In the play, Dionysus appears in Thebes to address claims that he is not actually the son of Zeus, the king of the gods. To prove this lie wrong, Dionysus intends to perform special rites to prove his own godhood. Pentheus is eventually betrayed by the god and tricks his mother to torture and kill Pentheus. Her madness is lifted when she presents the head of her dead son to her father Cadmus and he is horrified. Agave and her sisters are sent into exile and Dionysus plunders the city of Hellas with a barbarian horde.
The performance was broadcast from the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts with no in-person audience. This provided an opportunity to students studying broadcasting a chance to get hands-on experience in the production of a virtual theatre production. Some of these multimedia broadcasting students originally would get their broadcasting experience at home football games but with adjustments to the football season, some of them feared they would not receive that experience.
“I think it will be great on resumés, and I think it shows that not only are we a very good department as far as getting hands-on, but we are adaptable,” said Caleb Wuthnow, senior in communication to Pitt State Marketing. “We can see a situation and be like, ‘OK, how we’ve done this for the last 10 years is different,’ but we’re not going to let that stop us and sit there and mope.”
Many students thought that they would not have the opportunity to perform in a theatre production this semester because of the COVID-19 pandemic but students like senior in communication Kathryn Huffman were “overjoyed” when director of PSU’s theatre program Megan Westhoff announced that productions would still take place.
“It felt awful, not being in a show, or helping with one, or even seeing one…” Huffman told Pitt State Marketing. “My heart would have sunk if they would have announced we couldn’t produce a show. That has happened to friends at other universities… It feels so good to be part of a production again. The ability to do theatre means so much. There’s nothing like the feeling of doing a show.”
The virtual format was especially beneficial for those that have family and friends that live far away or cannot attend in-person performance due to extenuating circumstances.
“My grandpa lives in Monett, Missouri, but he is suffering from prostate cancer..,” Huffman said. “He hasn’t been able to come to my last several shows. It will be the first show of mine in a long time that he’ll be able to see… I have family who live in New York, in California… It will give them all an opportunity they would never have had otherwise.”