Mercer Theater is back on stage and ready for the year to come
After a year and a half of finding creative ways to mount their productions, the Mercer Theater is back to live shows, and this year’s selection of shows seems worth the wait.
In the spring of 2020, the Mercer Players were forced to cancel their performances of “La Commedia Pinocchio”, a family adaptation of the classic children’s story “Pinocchio”.
Now they’re finally putting on the show, and a lot has changed since before the pandemic.
Mercer Theater has spent a year and a half adapting its productions, hosting a fully online production via Zoom in the fall of 2020 and a pyrotechnic and full-scale puppet show on the historic quad in the spring of 2021.
“We never completely stopped productions, but we had to find creative ways to follow social distancing guidelines to get there,” said Laura Ashlyn Pridgen, president of the Mercer Players.
The pandemic has posed unique challenges for Pridgen and others working in the performing arts.
“COVID-19 has been incredibly difficult for the arts, and not just because closed doors mean less funding,” Pridgen said. “Theaters are filled with incredibly talented people, and many of them rely on productions as a creative outlet. I know a lot of people who have struggled to lose this opportunity during the pandemic. ”
Two productions are planned for the fall semester 2021: “La Commedia Pinocchio” and “Hamlet 2020”.
Mercer’s alumnus Charles Thomas will lead “Hamlet 2020”. According to Pridgen, Thomas edited the original script to tell the story from a modern perspective through the eyes of people of color.
Two other productions are planned for spring: “La Chèvre (Or, ‘Qui est Sylvia’)” and “Eurydice”.
The Mercer Theater has measures in place to ensure the security of in-person performances. Everyone involved in the production has been asked to wear masks in the theater and routine handwashing is encouraged. Members of the public are encouraged to follow these same guidelines.
Pridgen is looking forward to showcasing old and new talent this season.
“We have so many new students who are involved in our productions who bring their unique talents to the stage, as well as returning students who have not been able to do shows due to the pandemic,” she said. “Our selection of shows for the season is fantastic, and having so many students involved will make it one to remember.”
Performances of “La Commedia Pinocchio” are free and will take place September 24-25 at 10 am at Tattnall Square. The performances of “Hamlet 2020” are from October 21 to 24 and from October 28 to 31.