Curtains going up one way or another

Campus production of Pride and Prejudice debuts over Zoom screen

Perris Larson, Staff Writer

Promotional poster for SPU Theatre’s next production Pride and Prejudice, which will be streamed over Zoom. (Courtesy of the SPU Theatre department)

The show must go on, but with a few minor adjustments.

Originally, Seattle Pacific University’s campus theatre was going to put on an in-person production this winter. The plan was to perform Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” a novel about the romance between the independent Elizabeth Bennet and the stubborn Mr. Darcy. Unfortunately, due to rising cases of COVID-19, the production turned to online performances.

Senior theatre performance major Sydney Penticuff plays the oldest, sweet-tempered and modest sister Jane Bennet in the production. Penticuff showed much anticipation to participate in the play in spite of the transition.

“The adaptation from the novel to the script is really fun. It’s a wonderful love story, hopeful and sweet, which during this time is important to have,” Penticuff said.

Associate professor of theatre and Department Chair Richard Lorig expressed that after the first week of Winter Quarter, it soon became apparent that not just rehearsals needed to be online, but the performance as well.

“We were in-person for only a couple of days, and what started happening was people who were involved with the show were coming down with COVID-19, or were getting exposed to it,” Lorig said.

The transition was not without difficulty.

“It was tough because the school’s internet was pretty bad, but we had a really resilient cast and crew. We were able to laugh at how technologically difficult it was to rehearse,” Penticuff said.

Theatre marketing assistant Kaylan Ramirez plays one of the infamous Bennet sisters, timid bookworm Mary Bennet, who is the third oldest out of the five siblings.

“I think one of our concerns was how this was going to work. Some of us had never been in a Zoom production before, so there was the question of how we were supposed to act with such limited space,” Ramirez said. “ One of the many incredible things about our director, Faith Bennett Russell, is that she thought outside of the box and made us feel like we were all in one space acting with each other.”

Although there was the disappointment of not performing for a live audience, the cast and crew were able to make the most out of the situation to tell a professional and entertaining tale.

“The best parts of the story are still present,” Penticuff said.

Senior theatre performance major Chloe Newton plays the intelligent and high-spirited Elizabeth Bennet in the play. Newton explained how the transition from in-person to Zoom worked and how the cast is still able to deliver a realistic performance.

“I think it’s a really interesting testament to what can be done with theatre despite not being able to be in-person. We are acting through Zoom. We each have our own separate spaces but we act through the camera towards each other,” Newton said.

The show was pre-recorded over two days. All cast members were given props and backgrounds to create the illusion of the actors being on a stage. The cast is in full costume, hair and makeup.

“It is still very much a theatre production. I think when people see it, they will be able to feel the story as if they were sitting in the audience,” Newton said.

Even though it was a tough and sad decision to make, the cast understood the reasoning of why the production had to transition to Zoom. It has taken four months for this cast to come together to bring a novel to life through their skills and teamwork. It is a production that they are excited for everyone to see.

“It feels so good to be able to make art again and have it put out into the world for people to enjoy and see. I really hope people take something from this performance after they watch it,” Ramirez said.

$10 access tickets are available now for “Pride and Prejudice,” and the online performances will be from Feb.17 to Feb. 20. The Zoom link will be provided once tickets are purchased. More information can be found on the SPU Theatre webpage.