'A Brilliant Collage'
Pandemic-inspired "In These Times" will be performed live online, April 15-17
Most theatrical productions begin with a script.
"In These Times" began with a concept: ask students at Holyoke Community College to write first-person accounts of their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic; audition student- and alumni-actors to perform those stories; and complement the monologues with music and art contributed by other members of the HCC community.
"It's interesting putting something like this together," said HCC theater professor Patricia Sandoval, the show's director. "You don't know what you're going to get."
What she got and how it all fit together she calls a "brilliant collage."
"This is going to be a really unique production," said Sandoval, "because we are incorporating so many art forms. It's a really wonderful showcase of what students have done throughout the pandemic. All of the writing and art is original and some of the music. All of it was inspired by these times, which is where the title comes from."
Presented by the HCC Theater, Music and Visual Art departments, "In These Times" opens on Thursday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. The virtual show will be live-streamed on YouTube and performed again on Friday, April 16, and Saturday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on April 17. The Friday night show will be ASL-interpreted.
Performances are free and open to all. The show can be accessed through hcc.edu/times-show
The shows will not be recorded for later viewing.
"This will be live," said Sandoval. "It's really meant to be experienced in real time, with a real audience, even though the audience is watching remotely."
The cast includes 18 student- and alumni-actors performing 40 different monologues that run one to four minutes apiece during the 90-minute show. Each actor will perform from their homes in front of their computers, with the video segments stitched together remotely in real time by streaming coach and HCC theater alumnus Corey Missildine, who performed the same role during HCC's fall 2020 production, an original, live-streamed play called "Fatal Fisticuffs."
"What's beautiful about these monologues is that they represent the diversity of the college, whatever that can be defined as," Sandoval said. "Age, race, ethnicity - we've got everything represented in this production because that's what HCC is."
Eight student and alumni musicians pre-recorded performances for the show. That includes three original compositions: "Covid Suite," a multimedia, electronic piece by student Jim Gipe; "Nero (Live in the Time of Corona)," by student Elena Ciampa (piano and vocals) and "When," by HCC alumna Luci Mino '18 (ukulele and vocals).
"The other musical performances aren't originals, and aren't necessarily related to the theme of the show," said Elissa Brill Paskin, chair of the HCC Music Department, "but they are in terms of how the performances were put together. Just the fact that people are performing alone, in their homes instead of with others on a stage and often accompanying or backing up themselves, really speaks to the way we are all finding ways to make music during these times."
Approximately 45 students and alumni contributed artwork that will be used to bind each of the monologues together on screen.
"The artwork is at times a direct response to specific moments or events of this past year," said Felice Caivano, chair of the HCC Visual Art Department. "For example, alumna Isabella Dellolio's photographs document friends wearing masks. Alumni David Czupryna, Samary Ramos, and Jamie Capps, among many student artists, present poetic interpretations of the times we have been living through while others created work abstract in nature providing an image of beauty that we can all use right now. This collaborative project has the potential to give the viewer pause to contemplate these times at many levels."
All the script submissions came from student work assigned last fall by professors in their HCC classes.
"The writing has exposed all the issues that are relevant across the globe," said Sandoval. "Mental health. Loneliness. Isolation. Remote learning. Fear. But the writing also shows HCC students as being resilient, hopeful, optimistic, and self-reliant. That all comes through, and it's beautiful."
Original writing by:
Madyson LaBrecque, Shawn Mitchell, Andre Rodrigues, Elias Pietrzykowski, Anne Savage, Mike Ferrera, Abaigeal Russell, Salomé Moreno, Isabella Bonavita, Nicole Couture, Steve Pisano, Thomas Vaillancourt, Brandie Heyes, Emily Yan, Taisnaraliz Perez, Jeff Pillier, Lia Yurashko, Banen Mustafa, Rosa Ueon, Cassi Broga, Jostin Lopez, Meghan Pion, Miguel Perez, Jennifer DeJesus, Tess Weissman, Roxy Murphy, Frank Johnson, Joseph Picard, Matthew Liimatainen, Regina Penkala, Alistair Reid, Jason Kelly, Isaiah Colon, Alia Alabsi, Heidi Robbins, Autumn Marley, Nicole Rivera, Josh Dagenais, Todd Cummings, Cynthia Roy-Clark, Melina Tzambazakis, Kristen Tzambazakis
Arnaya Reynolds, Axel Cruz **, Brandon Rodriguez, Brienne Senez, Cassi Broga, Cecilia Sanchez, Courtney Parker, Debora Uller, Isabella Bonavita, Nu Ton, Jayda Aponte, Jeremy Routhier, Justin Torres, Kristen Booker, Lauren Bailey, Mikey Perez, Nathalie Vicencio**, Todd Cummings, Roxy Murphy, Stephanie Louis.
Musical performances by:
Lauren Fleit, Ania Bostock, Jim Gipe, Noah Longpre, Mike Dull, Elena Ciampa, Brett Hiller, Canada Enright, Drew Cassibo, Joey Esker, Lucia Dostal, Luci Mino**, Sarah Wilcox, Chan Collins.
Contributing Visual Artists
Sarah Schrijn, Carlton Solenski, Vic Sardinha, Nancy Kiernan-Campbell, Ron Gallagher, Bri Buggs, Thomas Young, Rachel Justice, Andrew MacDonald, David Czupryna **, Lexi Paulin, Paul Borowski, Samary Ramos **, Isabella Dell'olio **, Jessica Impoco **, Maryanne Benns **, Vanessa Oquendo, Crystal Medina, Clay Cummings, Christa Mae Diana, Skylynn Gonzalez, Tara Conant **, Jamie Capps **, Max Brown, Amore Freeman, Azar Neamah, Ian Shaw, Charlie Stern, Sarah Riffenburg, Courtney McCormick, Gia Mendez, Jay Steinbock, Khyla Boyd, Michael Standing, Milannie Betancourt, Rachel Bellenoit, Melanie Pena, Caleb Schmitt, Veronica Desorcy, Lisa Herger, Carson Heal, Luke Litchfield, Nachaly Reyes Santos, Sasha Kuznetsova.
In lieu of ticket sales, viewers are asked to consider making a donation to the HCC Leslie Phillips Fund for Theater Arts and Education at: hcc.edu/give
PHOTOS by Benj Gleeksman: HCC student actors Mikey Perez and Lauren Bailey rehearse monologues from "In These Times."