Theatre department: Behind the scenes

The making of Red Bike with Holly Holsinger

By Trinity Stevens

The world has been away from the stage for over a year now. The Cleveland State University Theatre Department is continuously adapting to provide its students with the most hands-on way of practicing their craft. Even if that means creating a new art form. Wanting something that acknowledged and recognized the audience rather than just watching a movie, the production of “Red Bike” found itself somewhere in the middle of stage and film.

The set of “Red Bike” separated actors for safe social distancing and used a green screen to help with additional scenery, Source: Holly Holsinger
The live streamed performance used 6 individual cameras for each actor, Source: Holly Holsinger

The production was live streamed via six different cameras. There was one camera for each of the five actors and one that captured the whole set. 

“With a livestream it is never the same again, it is happening right in that moment and you are a part of it, so it still maintains that interaction by allowing the audience to experience the practice of live performance in real time leaving the outcome up to chance,” said director Holly Holsinger. 

While the final product was live streamed out of the pandemic theatre space here at Cleveland State, Holsinger states much of the process leading up to that point still took place over Zoom. Rehearsals began in January mostly online, keeping in person rehearsal to shortened time slots while still enforcing masks and physical distance. Divided into five cubicles of sorts, the set itself created physical barriers between the actors for added safety measures. Another unique feature about the set is that it acted as a green screen, so that images and videos could be projected into the scene to help reinforce the setting and the storyline.

Special effects could be added to the performance with the green screen backdrop, Source: Holly Holsinger

The play “Red Bike” is a monologue told through the eyes of an ll-year old child that talks about life- and broadens our understanding of memory and sense- was chosen for its adaptability. Given the ever-changing status of the COVID-19 pandemic, Holsinger wanted a show that could go on, regardless. “I had a working plan A through plan D ready to go if need be, though fortunately we were able to stick with that plan A,” said Holsinger.

There are many benefits to viewing a college theatre production for audiences of all walks of life. Holsinger states, “it makes you look at things differently, but beyond that it’s also just fun.” Who knows where the current circumstances will lead us next on this journey of crafting live theatre experiences, but the CSU Theatre Department will keep going, regardless.

Be sure and catch Cleveland State University’s next theatre production of the semester, “The Moors.” The show will be available for streaming April 15-17. More information can be found  here.

The CSU theater department has constructed a pandemic theater space to allow COVID-19 guidelines to be followed while also being able to put on performances, Source: Holly Holsinger

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