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Great Arts at Eastern, Anne Beck talks about the Zoom productions of 2 One-Act Plays

GENTRY:  And now Great Arts at Eastern from the Portales campus of Eastern New Mexico University. I'm Jeff Gentry, Dean of the College of Fine Arts here on KENW, your Public Radio Network. Today my guest is Anne Beck of ENMU’s Department of Theatre and digital filmmaking. She directs American Voices opening next Thursday, September 24th, live for a four-day run via streaming video. Thank you for joining me on our season premiere.

BECK:  Oh, it's so great to be here Doctor Gentry, It’s Wonderful.  

GENTRY:  Well Anne what is different about this theatrical production, besides everything?

BECK:  Well, I've been rehearsing the actors, each of them in their dorm room or apartment. Me in my house. The stage manager at his house. So, we're all in our own environments. But we're all in the same play and that is what makes it very exciting. So, we have built Two One Act plays that will be streaming through a webinar registration. You know on Zoom, Virtual. And it will be live, and that will be the exciting thing. And I have to say there is a lot of similarity between live theater and what we are doing. The actors are live. They are memorized their scripts, they have their characters and they are presenting the story to the audience.

GENTRY:  That's very exciting and very different. I imagine that some plays work better than others under COVID-19 conditions. Why did you select these two one acts, besides the fact that one of them deals with murder?

BECK:  Well, you know. These two plays I actually chose last year and they were at the time they were written. They were written for college groups to perform an, therefore raising the consciousness of the community. And it's also, of course, the Centennial of Women Suffrage, so it seemed like a good time, but. These two plays have turned out to be excellent vehicles for Zoom because they both focus on the reaction of the main characters to what is going on in a moment. So, the audience really concentrates on what the actresses are experiencing as they go through the story.

GENTRY:  So, does that make it kind of in real time?

BECK:  Absolutely, absolutely? And because in Zoom, we as the audience are very close to the actors faces. There is an intimacy in the performance that is just not available to us in a regular large theater or even a small black box.

GENTRY:  Excellent, so tell me a little bit more about the themes of Trifles by Susan Glaspell and Overtones by Alicia Gerstenberg.

BECK:  It’s actually Alice Gerstenberg.  Alice Gerstenberg’s Overtones written in 1913, is about two women who meet for Tea and their inner selves.  So, there are four characters on stage.  The two main characters and then their inner selves.  Their inner selves expressed with the women are really thinking and feeling. So, we have a kind of a real self that's inside and a false self that we present to others. A little bit influenced by Freud.  Now, so the other one is actually based on a real-life murder, a farm wife of her husband, and even though the murderess never appears, the two women who are the protagonists in the play discover the motive for her murder of her husband.   His neglect, her isolation, her loneliness and it's really about the the loneliness of rural life, especially before women had access to the automobile. Can you imagine being in a Portales without a car?

GENTRY:  That would be difficult, so I know that these technical demands are significant for you. How can we access this play next Thursday night?

BECK:  What you're going to do is you're going to register at enmu.edu/TheatreLive. And once you register, you will put in your name and your email, you will. You know, choose the performance you want to see and then hit register annual, get a Zoom link that will allow you access to the performance that is live, not recorded.

GENTRY:  Great, yes. Thank you, Professor Anne Beck for American Voices, next Thursday through Sunday with a Sunday matinee. Otherwise, the shows are at 7:00 PM, free to the public worldwide. Just go to enmu.edu/TheatreLive.

GENTRY:  Learn more about this program at kenw.org.

GENTRY:  All the Great Arts at Eastern are found right here at enmu.edu/fineartsevents. Thanks for listening on KENW your Public Radio Network.