On Friday, April 2 at 8 pm, the first play of two commenced as HSU students within the Theatre, Film and Dance Department presented via Zoom their own new-aged rendition of “The Living Newspaper.” With topics including the unexpected effects of gender-reveal parties, relationships with virtual friends and robots during the time of COVID-19, the erasure and silencing of marginalized voices, and more. The second play will be streamed on Friday, April 16 at 8 pm.
Michael Thomas, lecturer, publicist and production manager for the department of theatre, film and dance at HSU describes what a living newspaper is and where the theme originated from.
“Living Newspaper is a type of theatre that presents plays about current events,” Thomas said. “This idea was created during the Great Depression, in the 1930’s, by a government production called the Works Progress Administration. The idea was to give jobs to the people.”
Thomas further spoke upon the validity within this type of play and the importance of accurately presenting current news and events to the public.
“In the past they did shows on things that were bothering people at the moment: housing situations, lack of housing, slum housing, the lack of electricity, how some people have electricity, some don’t, they did shows on contaminated water supply and social-political conditions,” Thomas said. “They researched all the facts and put it in the plays. It’s all very factual-based. That was very important to them. They wanted people to be able to depend on this. Current events of the day put on stage — people loved it!”
This production is featuring a partnership with three directors from Dell’Arte: Michael Fields, Carlos Gallegos and Elizabeth Colón Nelson.
Michael Fields, founding member and producing artistic director of the Dell’Arte Company, and director of the California State Summer School for the Arts explained the intent of this project in a press release last week.
“These pieces will be ‘devised’, that is, created collectively as an ensemble in a short time with a specific intent,” Fields said. “It will give voice to this generation at HSU. It is an opportunity to experience something that has not been done before with new voices.”
Both shows are created, performed and stage-managed by HSU students alongside dramaturg, producer and associate professor, Dr. Troy Lescher. They will be available to stream after their opening performances.
Dr. Lescher shared his excitement for the production in last week’s press release.
“[This is] such an exciting project-based learning experience,” Dr. Lescher said. “This project and collaboration with Dell’Arte engages students in creative processes that diverge from our usual approaches and encourages students to reimagine how they can participate within and serve the ensemble.”