The Doane Theater Department presented their most recent production, “WWZ: A Survivor’s Tale of the Great Zombie Pandemic,” last week on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13.
This production was available through a streaming site, Twitch, while the actors performed it live.
Fifteen students made up the cast, and they adapted their characters from a piece of literature into around a seven-minute monologue telling their stories.
The idea behind “WWZ” is that a United Nations (UN) correspondent is putting together a chronicle of survivors’ stories and what they did to survive.
“At its heart, it’s a human interest story about the survivors who have very harrowing stories, but some of it is just heartbreaking how they survived,” Co-Director of the Theater Department and Director of “WWZ” Robin McKercher said.
McKercher chose this piece because he felt that many of the ideas tie into the COVID-19 pandemic. “At its core, it is not about zombies,” and is instead about “how people survive pandemics and the heartache” that occurs.
“WWZ” incorporated many of the issues the world is currently facing. It depicts the effects of not taking the pandemic seriously, the people who tried to fight the virus, people who lost loved ones, etc. However, it also ties into military conflict and the effects of war on a person, according to McKercher.
“It shows how strong humanity can be. It also shows how in the future, we may have those traumatic events and effects related to this pandemic,” cast member and freshman, Kinsey Knorr, said.
The characters ranged from a housewife, a teenager, doctors who discovered the outbreak, to military personnel. The stories encompassed how they survived, what they saw and how they will never be the same. According to McKercher, these are characters who are just trying to put their lives back together. He said it makes the audience assess how life will be different after this current pandemic.
“For us in the performing arts, how are we going to be different? So, doing a project like ‘WWZ,’ it is definitely making an adjustment so we, as artists, can still be making universal beauty and doing it in a unique way,” McKercher said
While the majority of the show was monologues, there was a small amount of dialogue between the different characters and the UN correspondent. The live stream that audience members saw only consisted of two actors at a time: the survivor and the UN correspondent. Projections were used in the background to help depict where the character was located in the world.
McKercher and the crew had to learn about projections, using Twitch, new sound techniques, cameras and microphones to keep everyone safe. According to stage manager and senior, Autumn Galloway, the production went well as far as the tech side, something that they worked hard on.
For Knorr, using the camera instead of having an audience was a challenge to adapt to.
“In theater, we have to make things big and expressive but with a camera you have to be more subtle. It [made] me key in more on my emotions and my delivery,” Knorr said.
However, with all of these changes, benefits are arising. McKercher looks forward to using some of these new changes in the future.
“I just think the art form has to evolve because we had to evolve. We just can’t go back to normal. We have too many cool new tools,” McKercher said.
As far as future performances, the Theater Department is still working on various ideas to provide theater students with an opportunity to share their art form.