Kern Shakespeare Festival 2020 going virtual due to COVID


Photo courtesy of Emma Scott

The cast of “The Comedy of Errors” group photo, provided by Emma Scott, who plays Nell the Kitchen Wench.

Amaya Lawton, Reporter

The Kern Shakespeare Festival (KSF) is being recorded this year and then available to those who purchase a ticket for 24 hours.
This production is titled “The Comedy of Errors”. This is a play by William Shakespeare that is focused around two men who figure out that they each have a twin brother, according to Eventbrite.
“This slapstick Shakespearean comedy is reimagined for the golden age of silent movies, as the characters (and actors) follow strict protocols to keep themselves, and each other, safe for a global pandemic!”
The Shakespeare Festival productions are usually performed in front of an audience, but due to protocols and safety measures enforced by COVID, the show moves online. According to Brian Sivesind, professor of Theater Arts, “Nothing is the same! If we would have recorded a live performance of the actors and then shown that as a video it would have been similar.”
Emma Scott, who plays the character Nell the Kitchen Wench, explained, “COVID forced us to present Shakespeare in a completely different way and in a new medium.” Having to make this a silent film was surprising, she explained, but it is a part of the theater.
Vanessa Beltran is an actress in the performance and plays the character Dromio. She explains that there is a difference between filming and a live show. According to Beltran, “…We have to create our own energy. On a stage, we often feed on the energy the audience is giving off. While being in front of a camera, all you’re relying on is your director, crew, and castmates.”
To prepare for this production, the cast had to rehearse through zoom and only met to record the film, “The Comedy of Errors”, Sivesind stated. “The actors for the silent film had to learn an entirely different form of acting,” he explained.
“For the other two plays, the voice acting is so different from stage acting or camera acting.” Beltran supported the claim on the challenge to rehearse through zoom stating, “We had to use our bodies to tell the story virtually.”
“When it was finalized that we would be filming, we began using masks in rehearsals to practice using our eyes and eyebrows to convey our words,” according to Beltran. “We set the story during the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918. This way it made sense for masks.”
Sivesind also mentioned that, when the cast had to meet, they followed all safety precautions such as temperature checks, wellness checks, social distancing, and wearing their masks.
“Usually theater is a very collaborative environment where people hang out and get to know each other,” Sivesind explained. “We really couldn’t do that in person, so it was much more professional and to the point.”