Southern Utah University theatre students performed a live audio-only radio broadcast of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” from Oct 8-10. The audio production was a way for the theatre department to overcome restrictions due to the current pandemic.
With COVID-19 causing interruptions in usual theatrical presentations, directors and actors had to turn to alternative ways to keep practicing their art form. The show’s director Brian Vaughan wanted to preserve the live aspect of their performance.
“Nothing compares to a ‘live’ theatrical experience,” Vaughan said. “So while we are providing the play within an audio format, I was very interested in maintaining the spontaneous elements that can only occur within live engagement. This way the listener can hear the immediacy, nuance, and moment to moment honesty of the actors in very real time, as well as giving the actors the opportunity to fully invest in the depth of their characters.”
The performance involved dialogue between characters, sound effects and music. Actors noted that the lack of visual representation created unique challenges they hadn’t experienced before.
“Since we don’t have the element of sight in the mix, we have worked really hard to make the language as understandable and interesting to listen to as possible,” said Lena Conaster, who plays Beatrice in the production. “I have to make very clear and specific choices. It’s been a really amazing learning experience.”
Listeners to the performance had a unique experience also. SUU student Caleb Frandsen shared that it was sometimes difficult to differentiate between the characters voices, but it was fun to have part of the show left up to imagination.
“When I listened to the conversations between characters or heard an exasperation I could picture the body language they may have been using,” Caleb said. “I also liked being able to make comments without having to worry about other members of the audience.”
For information about upcoming events visit the SUU College of Performing and Visual Arts website.
Story By: Summer Smith
Performer photo courtesy of the College of Performing and Visual Arts