Solving Problems: Season Planning + Production Design
Throughout the spring and summer of 2020, the rules for putting up shows and for being a university kept evolving. In June, we diligently completed the set design and cost estimate for our planned production of Mamma Mia. We knew this might not happen in the fall. By July, there was no doubt: we needed a new plan.
The rules for Plymouth State Theatre:
- No one is allowed in any campus building unless they are a part of the campus community that is tested weekly and adheres to specific rules.
- Masks must be worn in all public spaces.
- Venue seating capacities are reduced to about 12%, and are open to regularly tested, campus-people only.
- Anyone might be called upon to quarantine temporarily at any time due to symptoms or potential exposure.
At one point it was said, “We already have remote theatre. It’s called ‘television.'”
A few weeks before this, we had had a casual conversation about alternate theatre models, and audience building. “What if there were a venue, say in New York, where they built one set, and did weekly episodes, like a TV series?”
While working to solve the season problems, we were discussing various options. Live-streaming or recording shows was a given. At one point it was said, “We already have remote theatre. It’s called ‘television.'”
We listed off what we needed in a show:
- Something that is either in the public domain or that we write ourselves.
- It should allow a production concept that lets actors appear on screens only in case they need to quarantine.
- It should allow a set that is affordable to build
- and can be built without needing too many carpenters in the shop.
- It should also allow a lot of custom work on props and effects
- it should work well streaming online
- ideally, it should motivate the use of masks on all of the characters.
- A new inventory of pan/tilt/zoom cameras with software.
- A playwriting class full of intelligent, committed writers.
- An inventory of projectors, screens, and media control software.
- Lots of people eager for anything.
How about Sci-Fi?
- Lots of opportunities for design & technology students to contribute.
- Masks? Just a part of the regular costumes!
- Actors can appear only on screens if needed.
- Not NEARLY enough science fiction on stage.
Opening Credit Sequence
The SilverStar Voyages became a significant part of the fall playwriting class. A team of two writers was assigned to each episode. The class as a whole worked towards a series premise, with the final premise being proposed by Aleksi Ellis. The class is taught by Doctor Paul Mroczka, who also serves as script editor and is directing two of the episodes. Five episodes total are scheduled, with some shooting still to happen as of this writing. Three of the five episodes are being directed by students Mikayla Caterino and Izzy Stafford.
Screen Captures from Episodes 1 & 2
Backstage and process images:
Some of the set design images:
How do I watch these?
The full episodes can be accessed through the Silver Center for the Arts here: https://www.plymouth.edu/silver-center/2350-2/
Mac – Christian Simpson
Victory Trio – Jay Baker
Gleeb – Grace Gilbert
Miami – Garrison Barron
De La Rosa – Alexsei Ellis
Hyp Crates – Sara-Ann Bailinson
Appa Ratchen – Matthew Szmyt
Nickie – Audrey Solinas
Europa Inga – Lindsey Brunelle
Billy Hergasa – Connor Butt
Ut Prosim – Kyle Sidders
EPISODE 1 Written by MIKAYLA CATERINO and ANTHONY ELDRIDGE
EPISODE 1Directed by PAUL MROCZKA
Associate Producer GRACE KUDLA
Series Premise by ALEKSEI ELLIS
Set Design by MATT KIZER
Costume Design by DANEE GOSSELIN
Lighting Design by MATT KADAM
Systems Engineer STUART CROWELL
Technical Director BOB BRUEMMER
Assistant Technical Director HEATHER MANFREDI
Audio/Visual Engineer TYLER McCARTHY
Assistant Costume Designer MACKENZIE GOODWIN
Makeup Design by GRACE KUDLA
Digital Video Effects ANNA SKALA and MATT KIZER
Production Design Assistant / Properties JILL MITCHELL
Character and Alien Movement by AMANDA WHITWORTH
Stage Manager ANTHONY ELDRIDGE
Assistant Stage Managers LEANNE BURGESS and RYAN KONRAD
Deck Managers JESSE FREDETTE and ETHAN THOMPSAN
Vocal Coach ELIZABETH DAILY
Camera Control Team
Sound Operator IMANEE GORDON
Lighting Operator CASSIE CUTTING
Wardrobe Supervisor SIERRA NORKO