Schuster Theatre to present a pageant play in May

Ali Smith, Arts & Leisure Editor

It’s official — another Schuster Theatre production is underway.
This time around, however, the theater crew is attempting something new.
The theater team plans on performing an outdoor play on a pageant wagon. And yes, there will be real horses.
The play, titled “Hrotsvitha and the Plague Players,” will take place at four locations on and around campus right before finals week on Saturday, May 1, and Sunday, May 2. It will be shown at 2 and 4 p.m. on both days.
The 2 p.m. show on May 1 will debut on Friendship Green.
The play will then be moved to the Morosky Courtyard for the 4 p.m. showing.
On May 2, the play will be presented at North Hall at 2 p.m. and in Perry Square at 4 p.m.
As a comedy, it will serve as a perfect event for the Gannon community to come together one last time before saying farewell to the spring semester. It will also help the students relax amid the stress that accompanies finals week. Laughter is the best medicine for stress, and it could not come at a more perfect time.
Hrotsvitha was a German nun who wrote plays and poetry while she was living in worldly isolation at Gandersheim Abbey.
She was a groundbreaking writer as she was considered the best female of her time in poetry and drama, and she is also considered the first female historian. This comes as no surprise, however, because women played an important role in the church at the time.
Junior theater student Regan von Richter expanded on the synopsis and the background of the play.
“’Hrotsvitha’ is a fun and hilarious play that takes place during medieval times in the midst of the bubonic plague,” she said. “Like the pandemic we are currently living in, this play pokes fun at the plague, and the actors involved turn a gloomy topic into a lighthearted and fun way to entertain an audience.”
Von Richter also spoke on behalf of her fellow actors and production crew, noting that the challenge of performing during a pandemic has allowed them to rediscover the joy of entertaining, especially through the mode of this production.
Alaina Manchester, the writer, director and producer of the play and an assistant professor of theater in the School of Communication and Arts, said that although devastating, COVID-19 has allowed the Schuster Theatre to expand its capabilities.
“It has been a joy to work in person with the students on a new project again,” said Manchester, who is also the theatre director. “It has also been a challenge to figure out how to do theater in a COVID-19 world. It is taking a lot of grace and humility, flexibility and humor.”
Von Richter also added to this transformative, progressive concept for the Schuster Theatre.
“Actors all around the country are challenged to find new ways to produce theatrical experiences and I believe that this production of ‘Hrosvitha’ is making huge strides to discover how we can push the limits and think outside the box while still respecting everyone’s health and safety,” she said.
The Schuster community is working to ensure a flawless, fun performance for the entire Gannon community.
“We care about the art that we put out into the world, and we want our audience to appreciate this production as much as we had fun making it,” von Richter said. “This play has personally touched everyone in the cast and crew, and I think we can all agree that ‘Hrotsvitha’ is a production nobody wants to miss out on.”
As it will be performed outdoors, on a pageant wagon around campus, it will also feel more interactive, which many students are craving during a time when many feel isolated.
“I think this production has been one of the best ways to bring people together to really turn this pandemic into something representative that is enjoyable and fun,” von Richter said. “The plays within the play are vastly different and share a unique perspective in every plot.”



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