Cresson, Pa. – For its fall play, the Mount Aloysius College Theatre Department looked locally to find a playwright. Because of COVID restrictions, director Nathan Magee had to rethink what the department’s season was going to look like. After some restructuring and repurposing, Magee decided on presenting “Lockdown: An Evening of 10-Minute Plays by David L. Williams.”
“I had the pleasure of meeting David last year, and we began discussing a collaboration where we would use his plays for my directing class,” Magee said. “Because of COVID, that project never happened, but I still wanted to use the plays that we had discussed. I wanted to give the students an opportunity to work with an accomplished playwright. That is not something that we get very often here.”
Williams is a local playwright who lives near State College. He also works as an adjunct professor at Mount Aloysius. He received his MFA in Playwriting from Cornell University.
“Once the production shifted, I reread the plays and realized that they were perfect for this moment,” Magee said. “I believe that David’s plays are discussing ideas that are very relevant to today’s world. It is really a wonderful accident that these plays have only become more timely to us, but it’s also the mark of a great playwright.”
Instead of performing in front of a live audience as usual, Magee made the decision to present the plays virtually this year due to guidelines from the CDC and the PA Department of Health.
“I made the decision early on that we would not attempt to produce something with an audience this fall. I also knew I wanted the actors to be able to perform without a mask. That meant that we could not have them moving around the stage and interacting. So that really left the solution of readers theatre. The actors are placed eight feet apart and seated at music stands. I wanted it to be clear that the safety of my actors and crew is of the utmost importance to me.”
Overall, he says that the actors adapted well to the new format. As the play is presented as reader’s theatre, there was little to no memorization work required, so the actors were able to focus on their characters and the meanings of each individual play.
“I had a lot of fun producing these 10-minute plays,” said senior Veronica Scott, who acted in one of the plays and directed another. “Not only was it nice to get closure for them, since I was supposed to direct ‘Sing Your Song Quickly’ last semester as part of my directing class, but it was also great to experience acting and directing reader’s theatre for the first time ever in my theatre career. It was wonderful that we were even able to do theatre at all, and I’m incredibly grateful to Mount Aloysius College and the administration for allowing us this opportunity.”
You can watch “Lockdown: An Evening of 10-Minute Plays by David L. Williams” on the Mount Aloysius College YouTube channel, or by visiting the Mount Aloysius Theatre Department’s Facebook page.