Theater Department pushes through in an online environment

The concession stands in the main lobby of EC’s Marsee Auditorium faces the doors to the outside, silently waiting for students and faculty to bring life back to the stage. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, performances usually held here have been forced to move online. Image taken Monday, Oct. 19. (Jaime Solis/The Union)

Due to COVID-19 related closures, the El Camino College Theater Department has been forced to adapt to an online environment.

The ECC Center for the Arts closed due to COVID-19 on June 17, presenting some challenges for faculty and students in the department.

“It’s a little difficult right now because all of our shops are closed,” William Georges, professor of theater at ECC, said. “We can’t get in. There’s no electricity. There’s no air conditioning.”

As for costumes and props, Georges said that before the center closed, they had an opportunity to grab a limited number of supplies to use for upcoming productions.

“As soon as the committees had selected the plays, one of the things that our excellent Center for the Arts staff members did was [pull] costumes in different sizes and we pulled props,” Georges said.

One Acts will consist of five plays, each directed by different directors working with actors through Zoom. It is still undecided as to what platform will be used since presenting the plays online brings its own unique hurdles.

This fall, the theater department has adapted its productions to an online format. Putting the One Act productions together, remotely and online, has not been an easy transition for Georges and the student directors.

Jack Arroues, 19, theater major, will be directing his own adaptation of the novel “War of the Worlds.” Arroues will direct it as a radio play, meaning the story will be told by the actors’ voices, giving the audience a chance to explore the art in a different form.

“It’s been a unique experience. It’s been, I think, fun because it’s a challenge that you don’t normally get to do,” Arroues said.

Another challenge for the One Acts production is that the plays need licenses to be put online.

“Special permission is needed to be able to record and upload the performances online,” Georges said.

Similar to the faculty, some students are facing challenges during online lectures. Cristina Roche, an 18-year-old theater major, is currently taking a fundamentals of acting course online, which includes doing warm-ups and going over monologues.

“It’s everything that students would do together in a class setting, except now it’s individually through Zoom,” Roche said.

Connectivity is a major problem that students have experienced with online classes, as there are “always some issues with WiFi,” Roche said.

Regardless of the technical difficulties when using Zoom, Roche has been able to adjust well, which she attributes to her teacher.

“My professor is amazing because she finds a way to find a tiny bit of time to spend with each of us individually, she goes that extra mile,” Roche said.

Editor’s Note: Picture added on Oct. 26, at 8:41 p.m.