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UW Snowy Range Summer Theatre Season Goes Virtual

June 17, 2020
screen shot of students rehearsing virtually
University of Wyoming students, from left, Mary Dyson, from Parker, Colo.; Justen Glover, of Arvada, Colo.; Andrew Thornton, from Riverton; and Lauren Asher, from Powell, rehearse a scene from “God of Carnage” via Zoom. Because of COVID-19 concerns, the Snowy Range Summer Theatre play will only be a virtual production offered online at 7:30 p.m. June 23-27. (UW Photo)

Snowy Range Summer Theatre goes virtual this month with “God of Carnage,” the 2009 Tony Award-winning comedy by Yasmina Reza about the aftermath of a children’s playground fight.

Presented by the University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance, and directed by alumnus Jason Pasqua, “God of Carnage” livestreams each night from June 23-27 at 7:30 p.m.

Virtual tickets are available for $5 at www.uwyo.edu/finearts or call the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts box office at (307) 766-6666, Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., to arrange for “pay-what-you-can” or free access.

The box office will provide patrons instructions via email on how to access the livestream performance. The comedy is the only show in production this summer, livestreaming each night of the run.

“God of Carnage” follows two couples trying to make sense of a playground altercation between their boys. When Alan and Annette’s son hits Michael and Veronica’s son in the mouth with a stick, knocking out his teeth, the parents agree to meet to discuss the incident. What begins as a civilized get-together between the residents of an upscale Brooklyn neighborhood quickly devolves into a scrappy, laugh-out-loud evening as the libations flow and the gloves come off, leaving the couples with more than just their principles in tatters.

“Originally, we had planned a two-show summer season and had requested and received performance licenses,” says UW artistic Director Scott Tedmon-Jones.

However, when it became clear that an in-person summer season was not going to be possible due to the coronavirus -- and the closure of the UW campus to large public gatherings -- Tedmon-Jones was left to consider whether to cancel the season or go virtual.

“The main challenge in creating virtual theater is that it is not a common experience or skill that many people have, which, in this case, is compounded by the need to also create a safe model for working in a social distancing format,” Tedmon-Jones says.

Tedmon-Jones watched as many virtual performances as possible to see how other theater professionals were taking on the challenge, including reviewing the main video platforms being used, with the goal of exploring, creating and producing as strong of a production as possible in the typically compressed summer theater schedule.

Once he and the company had decided to move forward, they needed to request livestreaming rights from the playwrights or their representatives. Publishers do not generally handle these requests, but they have become extremely helpful in facilitating them due to the pandemic, Tedmon-Jones says. As the economic crisis due to COVID-19 deepened, and due to the uncertainty of receiving the necessary streaming rights for one production, Tedmon-Jones and the company decided to produce only one play.

“All members of the company are being challenged in different ways, and this summer season also is allowing us to test ideas and develop processes should we need to go virtual when the academic season resumes in the fall,” Tedmon-Jones adds. “It is not what we had originally planned, but we are gratified to be able to support a company of actors, designers, crew and director, and to provide some entertainment and laughs to the community in this time of uncertainty.”

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