BY ELISE PANNEMANN / VN STAFF WRITER
As the Detroit Mercy Theater Company is about to stage the first show of its 51st season, “Antigone,” I can’t help but recognize how blessed I am to be able to perform on stage for my senior year at the university.
During my junior year, the school went almost completely online due to the Covid-19 global pandemic – meaning that all of my theater classes took place online.
Theater is a medium that often requires actors to be in the same space, bouncing dialogue, emotion and energy off one another.
Going from meeting in person every day and being able to physically embody a character to having to perform to a computer monitor was a struggle for me and my fellow theater majors.
We were forced to get creative for our Theater Company’s 50th season.
We performed “Angels in America” at our regular performance space at the Boll Family Theater at the YMCA – while spread 10 feet apart and fully masked.
We wrote, directed and starred in our own TikTok plays.
And we recorded ourselves performing an audio-only radio play, “Hitchcocked.”
Plus, we created lighting, costuming, set designs and sound designs for shows we never actually put up on their feet.
The goal of this project was to teach us about the importance of the many jobs it takes to bring a play to life.
All of these 2020-21 Covid-19 lockdown projects were done without a live audience, which is a critical part of live theater.
Sophomore and fellow theater major Adam El-Zein said it was difficult during his freshman year to not be able to do a proper theater production.
“The past year without theater has been a hard one,” said El-Zein. “Theater is what I love to do, and without it I felt lost, like I didn’t really have a purpose and I was going through my life aimlessly.”
El-Zein will be performing as Haemon, as well as a member of the chorus, in the upcoming production of “Antigone,” his first college theater production to be performed in front of a live audience.
“Getting to do actual theater this year is a gift, and I’ll never take it for granted again,” he said. “Just getting to do what I love, and to finally get to know people that love the same things as me is a dream come true. Getting to impact people, our audience through what we do is truly remarkable, and I can’t wait to keep pursuing this path.”
The opening night for “Antigone” will be on Oct. 22.
I too will be joining El-Zein in our performance of “Antigone” as the character Eurydice, and as member of the chorus.
I am grateful that in my final year at Detroit Mercy I will be able to perform on stage.
I was worried last year that I had made the wrong decision about my career path.
It was a whole year where I wasn’t able to do live theater, and I was filled with the anxiety of whether or not I would be able to receive the hands-on education I was expecting when I first entered college.
But now I am in my final year, and theater is back on.
I can’t wait to get back to live theater where I can do what I entered college to do – to do what I love.