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Washington and Lee University takes its drama online

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 5:18 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - Normally, Washington and Lee University’s Lenfest center is bustling on opening night. But today the doors are closed to all but students and staff, and the show is remote.

“We kept having to be very flexible and shifting the way we were doing things,” said Theater & Film Professor Stephanie Sandberg.

At first they thought about doing their production of “Tartuffe” live, but the elaborate production made that impossible. So it’s recorded, rolling online through the weekend.

“So we ended up shooting it with four cameras," Sandberg said. "One that was zooming in and out and doing close-ups, and three that were stationary, getting different angles on the scene.”

This proved a challenge in set design.

“Originally we were going to build a replica 17th century stage inside our Black Box Theater,” according to Sandberg.

But when they lost the live audience, they went another way.

“So you see everything through these Baroque frames," she said. "These gold, gilded Baroque frames.”

Otherwise, they were able to perform as planned.

“We kept all of the style of doing the gestures and the period," Sandberg said, explaining the actors were performing period gestures. "But we just moved it into this new framing device.”

The play airs for four nights this weekend on a Washington and Lee website at https://livestream.com/wlu

Sandberg thinks it speaks to our times, though there was some room to be even more on the mark.

“We could have done Camus' ‘The Plague,’” she laughed.

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