Writing a love note to the theater amid a pandemic


Chloe Forbes, editor in chief

When Alaina Manchester, director of Schuster Theatre, thinks of the theater, she envisions her students’ faces on the theater.
Making that vision come to life, the Schuster Theatre’s newest production, “Love Notes,” is a theatrical art installation, projecting the prerecorded video of the production on the side of the theater for community members to watch.
“Love Notes” is a compilation of monologues from different students, answering questions like what theater means to them, what they miss about it, what they do when they can’t perform and what that means for their identities.
Each monologue is a story of a community member affected by the theater in some way or another, reflecting on its purpose to them, both mourning it in the traditional sense but also celebrating it as a whole.
Seamus Clerkin, a senior theatre and communication art major and student director of “Love Notes,” said he hopes this production sheds a light on the changing nature of what theater means during the pandemic.
“We hope that it is a reminder to everyone that theater can still prevail,” Clerkin said. “While it’s still a different setting, it is still in essence theater. While it changes the medium, it doesn’t change the meaning.”
Manchester agreed with this, saying that digital theater can be a more accommodating style of performance for those who may not be able to participate in traditional theater.
“Some people feel a level of access and freedom that they did not find in traditional theater,” Manchester said. “Digital theater is not a placeholder. I hope the audience takes away that storytelling isn’t going anywhere. In times of trouble or times of strife, stories help us feel connected.”
In the light of the pandemic, theater has come to mean different things to its members, and this production is an amalgamation of all those thoughts.
Petra Shearer, a senior English and theatre performance major and student director, said “Love Notes” is more than just a performance.
“This piece shows the power and longevity of theater, even in a pandemic,” Shearer said. “Theater is almost as old as humanity itself, and has lasted through plagues, wars and anything else that has led up to this point. Theater is not leaving anytime soon; it’s just changing and evolving.
“This has been a glimmer of hope in these difficult and turbulent times.”
Students, faculty, staff and community members can see this love note to the theater as it debuts this week. The one thing the cast and crew does ask is that those coming to watch stay socially distant and six feet apart.
Performed by theater members and recorded by Schuster Theatre partner Britty Lea, “Love Notes” will be projected on the side of the Schuster Theatre Thursday to Saturday at 8 p.m. each night. The production will also be livestreamed on the Schuster Theatre Facebook page for anyone to watch.