by Padraic Lillis · October 26, 2014
The college collaboration play In the Event of My Death is having its first performance Thursday, October 30th, at 7:30PM E.S.T. at Ashland University. The school's journalism department will be live streaming the production.
I don't know if the other two schools will be able to do this...or if we will find another way to share the experience of presenting the plays but I am excited to share the play as well as the progress of development through the three productions.
The link for the live stream is: Ashland Production of 'In the Event of My Death".
The live streaming of theatrical events is becoming more popular. I know HowlRound.Com has been live streaming readings, discussions, and conferences of late. I am a firm believer that theater is about being in the room for the event. It is a shared experience by those in the room. However, the idea of sharing the process is important. Especially in this case where we can create an opportunity to allow people to bare witness the development process but also participate through sharing their thoughts on what they saw.
The idea of creating an opportunity for the development process to be extended through three productions seemed monumental in what it would offer the playwright. I knew it would be valuable to the students. I did not recognize how valuable it would be. They have a voice in shaping new work. Something that is rare in an educational environment. Also, the characters are close to their age and the play deals directly with issues they confront every day. It is personal to them. It is important. And it is their world. The witness the student's commitment to the play and growth through the work has been an incredibly rewarding experience.
This weekend the production headed into tech for the show. A few days before that they invited the student crew members into rehearsal to watch the show. The audience of their peers were exhilarated. They can't wait to share this with their community. One member shared on the cast Facebook page about how honest and familiar the play felt. She shared about how her sister had died suddenly and the play had moments that were very familiar and important for her to witness. She wrote, "There is a moment near the end of the play where the characters gather around Trevor and Kate and just support one another in the quiet. I distinctly remember a similar moment on the day I went home and sat on the floor with my head in my mother's lap just holding each other. Those are the moments that lead to healing."
Ashland's Department Chair is also working with the County Mental Health & recovery Board to put together a list of resources for those concerned about suicide. I am grateful for the impact the play is having with the community, the dialogue it is creating, and the identifiable value that art. These moments are very valuable. The process is clearly offering may than an opportunity for the playwright to develop as an artist. It is creating a conversation with a wider community about the topic of the play as well as the art itself.
I'm currently directing at SUNY Brockport, in Upstate New York, and one of the students in the cast told me recently he wished there was more access to seeing specific productions of plays. He can't get to the Lincoln Center Library, and he wished he could see the original production of new plays. It would be a better way of understanding the excitement about certain plays people are talking about, besides waiting for the one or two that might be produced at a Regional Theater that is a half an hour away from campus. I understand the monetary reasons for not making plays available on video. I also understand that theater is a live event experienced by those in the room. I am grateful that Ashland journalism department will at a minimum link up one other campus to the experience of this play.
I hope you'll tune in and share your thoughts.
Talk with you soon.