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UMD Theatre Department presents first play of the year outdoors

Emily Ness
Updated: September 24, 2020 10:15 PM

During chaotic times, many turn to the arts. And on Thursday, the arts returned to UMD’s newly renovated Ordean Court with the theatre department's first play of the year, Shakespeare’s Henry V.

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This came after a great deal of planning to ensure that the performance was safe for all to participate in and attend.

Tom Isbell, the Director of the play said that it has been amazing to watch students adapt to the changes at hand, including acting while wearing masks and maintaining social distance.

“We’re so grateful to have this experience. I think we’re all craving this—I mean we’re craving a live actor, audience experience,” Isbell said.

Jake Nelson, a senior starring in Thursday’s play has been participating in theatre since freshman year. In addition to wearing a mask and maintaining social distance, he said this was the first time he has done a show outside.

“It’s unlike anything we’ve ever done inside the theatre. It is such a unique experience and I’m very grateful to have that,” Nelson said.

Organizers said the goal of doing the show outside was to give audience members the space to socially distance. In addition to the health benefits associated with this, Nelson said there were artistic benefits too.

“Weather and daylight is a huge difference. You know, we’re used to having the audience be completely in darkness and we are the only ones lit up, but when we’re starting at 5:00pm, there’s still sunlight, so everybody is illuminated the same amount so we get to interact with the audience more,” Nelson said.

And despite wearing masks, Nelson said interaction with audience members was still strong.

“It makes our acting so much stronger because we have to make such specific and bold choices that can read to the audience despite not seeing half of your face, so in the future, its going to make our acting so much stronger,” Nelson said.

Katie Kampfhenkel, a junior who serves as the play’s Stage Manager said the experience was something she’d never forget.

“We had a lot of cold nights and a lot of adjusting, but it’s been very fun,” Kampfhenkel said.

According to Kampfhenkel, auditions and the first two weeks of rehearsals took place online.

“It’s been a lot different than a typical experience,” Kampfhenkel said.

The play was filmed and will be available for the public to watch in time, but for now, it is sold out.

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Emily Ness

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