Fall 2021 Schuster Theatre Preview


Ali Smith, Arts & Leisure Editor

As the Schuster Theatre wraps up the spring semester with its final production, “Hrotsvitha and the Plague Players,” many in the Gannon community are left wondering what is next for the theater crew.

Over the last year, as many have had to adjust to the new normal in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Schuster Theatre has adapted to the conditions and faced the challenges head on.

For example, in order to reach the widest audience possible during this socially distant period, the theater crew held a completely virtual musical available for screenings on Zoom. In doing so, the crew had to tailor the visuals and the audio to a virtual audience as opposed to a traditional, live audience in house.

Additionally, the theater adapted to COVID-19 mandates by hosting “Hrotsvitha and the Plague Players” outdoors on a pageant wagon, which takes place this weekend with two shows each Saturday and Sunday. In doing so, the theater is allowing free admission, public viewing and community entertainment all the while keeping the crew and the audience safe.

Although the future is uncertain, the Schuster Theatre remains hopeful for the fall semester and beyond.

“Although we don’t have a set season yet, we still have an idea as to what we want to do next year,” said theater director Alaina Manchester. “We still have to talk with the season selection committee. Our biggest concern is safety, and we are hoping to be able to introduce a live audience next fall according to Gannon regulations and CDC guidelines.”

Manchester, who is also an assistant professor of theater, said seating would first be opened up to the Gannon community, followed by the family of the cast and crew.

This summer, the theater plans to host a Shakespearean play in July.

Jenna Sulecki, a Gannon alum, will direct this Shakespeare play. The theater will announce auditions for this production soon.

Looking ahead to the next academic year, however, the Schuster Theatre plans to open with a fun, campy musical. Given the theme of the production, the theater crew plans to push back the opening date toward Halloween weekend as opposed to performing before fall break as per usual.

This musical will most likely fit into the contemporary comedy genre.

The theater also plans to put on a classical piece and a contemporary European play within the next year, according to Manchester.

Students involved in the Schuster Theatre hope to visit Scotland next summer for the Scotland Fringe Festival, as they aspire to perform their most recent play, “Hrotsvitha and the Plague Players,” there.

On campus, many are hopeful that morale will be on the rise as the summer progresses, and that the fall semester will have fewer restrictions than the fall 2020 semester had.

The Schuster Theatre is always looking to find new actors, directors and student directors, and these positions are not limited by major.

Those interested in becoming a part of the Schuster Theatre should contact Manchester at [email protected].



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