Schuster community reflects on changes


Ali Smith, Arts & Leisure Editor

Obviously, a lot has changed over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though we are still in the heat of the pandemic, with hopes of turning a corner soon, there have been vast adaptations to daily life and pillars of society.

For some, theater plays a huge role in everyday life, including work, self-expression, entertainment and community, to name a few.

The global theater community has been immensely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions and mandates. For some theaters, like the historic Berkeley Landmark California Theatre, the pandemic meant permanent closure.

Gannon University’s theater community was more fortunate, although the Schuster Theatre was still met with its challenges.

Over the course of the pandemic, the Schuster Theatre shifted from standard in-person performance within the theater, to virtual performance with “The Musical of Musicals: A Musical!” to outdoor pageant play performance of “Hrotsvitha” before spring finals week of 2021 and then again in July with “Titus Andronicus” and finally returning to the theater for in-person performance this fall with “Evil Dead.” This time around, however, audience members were required to wear a mask, which is an adaptation not present for pre-pandemic performances at the theater.

To further this, Breanna Womble, a junior theatre and communications major, added that although student actors were required to wear masks at rehearsals for their latest theater performance of “Evil Dead,” this limitation allowed them to exaggerate their body language and carry this energy to the stage for a better performance.

“What I found changed for the better was everyone’s ability to connect the dots and be even more expressive with their facial expressions while we performed live and maskless on opening night,” Womble said. “You begin to see an entire world you created underneath the masks.”

Grace Dible, a sophomore theater and communications major, spoke to the change in theater experience as a whole as a result of the pandemic, calling theater in this age a learning curve for everyone.

“Within the past year, I’ve watched the theater community adapt and change things to make the best out of an inconvenient situation,” Dible said.

“What has surprised me the most is how dedicated some people are to keeping everyone in the community safe and how much they have sacrificed to make shows the best they can possibly be.”

Dible named some of these measures made by and for the Schuster Theatre community, recalling late nights of costume work, extra efforts in making the theater feel like a community and people in the Erie community who have made exceptional efforts to support and appreciate the art produced at the Schuster.

“I’ve been so proud and excited to be a part of this dedicated community,” Dible said, “and can’t wait to see how we will all continue to grow and learn.”

The Schuster Theatre will continue to be a staple of the Gannon community for the forseeable future.



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