CBU theatre program bringing its production to the screen
Riverside, Calif. (Nov. 18, 2020) – The COVID-19 pandemic has closed theatres and quieted stages across the country. However, students at California Baptist University have been busy rehearsing for William Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”
Though instead of performing before a live audience, the CBU cast filmed its production on Nov. 14 to make it available for streaming. During rehearsals, everyone wore a mask or a face shield, but those came off for filming.
“I tell the students, there are actors all over the country right now who want to be in rehearsal,” said Frank Mihelich, associate professor of theatre and the show’s director.
“Love’s Labour’s Lost” is a romantic comedy. The play was written in the 1590s, but the CBU production is set in 1938 in the Hamptons outside of New York. Instead of royalty, the characters are upper-class New York sophisticates.
“It’s a fun play, and we need a comedy right now,” Mihelich said.
For Daniel MacDonald, a film senior who plays Ferdinand, learning the language of Shakespeare was a challenge. So was learning how to dance, act and sing with masks and face shields.
“Acting without the ability to see the other person’s mouth affects the performance a lot. However, masks and shields have forced us to act with our eyes, eyebrows and bodies more to accommodate for what the masks cover up,” MacDonald said.
Jordan Brayboy, a theatre junior who plays the Princess, enjoyed being back on stage.
“It was great to see friends again and to be able to have this opportunity to perform on a stage because many do not have this luxury right now,” Brayboy said. “It’s a great opportunity to continue to work and grow within my craft.”
Joshua Rodriguez, assistant professor of music theory and composition, wrote music for the production. Additionally, the theatre program rented a professional video camera system for the filming. Along with Mihelich, there was a film director and editor. They plan to have the finished product available for streaming via ShowTix4U shortly before Thanksgiving.
Brayboy plans to watch the production with family and friends.
“I hope that the audience finds some time to laugh and enjoy the moments that life gives us,” Brayboy said. “We are all navigating difficult times right now and as cliché as it may sound, love is something that can help us get through life’s tough moments.”
Mihelich wants the viewers to enjoy the show and see that the theatre program is still at work.
“I want the audience to be able to stop, especially around the holidays, and have a good time,” Mihelich said. “I also want our regular audience to see we’re not hiding under a rock. We’re trying to be nimble; we’re trying to be flexible. We’re looking forward to being back in the room with them.”
As students rehearsed, many have wondered about the future of theatre with a pandemic.
“What I keep telling the students is, if you want to be an actor and innovator, if you want to rebuild the industry, that is great. Luckily, we have a lot of students who get excited about that,” Mihelich said. “Universities are in a special place to do this because we have time. Just the fact that we’re doing [this play] I hope is teaching them how to be an entrepreneur, how to think outside the box.”