BC theater program adjusts to the virtual space

Jaylene Collins, Reporter

The Bakersfield College Theatre Department students and professors are working to create two productions for this spring semester.
Complying with BC’s COVID-19 guidelines, most rehearsals are now held over Zoom.
“It’s not ideal,” said Brian Sivesind, a theater professor at BC. “But we are able to work with small groups and talk in theory about how the shows will look.”
During these Zoom rehearsals, everyone is preparing to record segments of the play with small groups that will meet in person later in the semester. These clips will be put together to create a full show that can be watched safely from home.
Still, putting together productions virtually comes with a new set of challenges.
The department is not able to do everything they were able to do in rehearsal pre-COVID through Zoom; they are unable to focus on the looks, blocking for the show and actors are no longer able to practice in the environment where they will be performing.
“For the direction, it’s really a challenge to communicate when we aren’t in person,” Sivesind explained. “The screen limits interaction and we can’t really see the whole picture. We focus on how things sound and how actors deliver lines, but even that isn’t completely clear when coming through the internet.”
Sivesind added that they also had to carefully select the productions the department would be putting on. The shows could not have any crowd scenes and had to be capable of being split up evenly between the actors.
Sivesind also said they did not focus on the pandemic for this semester’s theme because they think people need some escapism right now.
However, virtual production has not been all negative; Sivesind stated a positive to recording productions is that students are now able to learn more about the film and television-based aspects of acting instead of just the live theater acting.
Despite the setbacks that come with the pandemic, Sivesind said the department is working through it, trying to find the positives and learn new things that can be applied to the department in the future.
Although the pandemic makes everything more stressful, Sivesind said it is still important to pursue art.
“While survival is always the priority, art is an essential element of society that we too often take for granted,” he said.
Productions planned for this spring are: “Fairy Tales,” by Angela Carter that
will be directed by theater professor Cody Ganger and “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” by Stephen Adly Guirgis which Sivesind will direct. The productions will be premiering in March and April, respectively, and they will be available on the
streaming platform Vimeo.