(Play)ing online


Aidan Stromdahl
Junior Taylor Krassas performs in “Sonder”, a company-created digital video that explores the multifaceted dynamics of human isolation during a global pandemic. Krassas roams through her home in isolation, looking for anything to occupy her time.

Lyla Lee, Reporter

Adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hamline theatre student-led production “2020 Discoveries”. There are a total of four pieces: “Father’s Kitchen,” “Living By Myself,” “Fifty Million Lives” and “Sonder.” In addition there was a dance showcase, “Small Dances in Found Spaces,” and the Dance Ensemble’s performance “In Transition.” All the performances respond to the question: How do we respond to moments of change? Through these stories and choreographies, audiences can experience the challenges that people face when dramatic change occurs.


Although the COVID-19 pandemic inspired the production, not all the performances are centered around the virus. Each piece conveys a variety of raw and authentic experiences that everyone can relate to. But while audience members see the struggles represented on screen, what might go over their heads are the struggles the virus presents behind the scenes. 


Coby Aloi, junior and director of “Father’s Kitchen,” discussed the obstacles he faced during the production of his piece. 


“If I had people in the space I’d have to mask them and do social distancing, and that would be difficult to figure out, especially with a semester where I’m already doing a lot,” Aloi said. “So I decided to do a one-man show, but even when doing a one-man show there was a lot of stuff that I wasn’t anticipating because of COVID.” 


What’s more, Senior Lecturer in the Theatre and Dance Department, Professor Kaori Kenmotsu, mentions how the performing arts as a whole have been suffering because of the pandemic and she hopes more people pay attention to it.


“I would ask both art makers as well as audiences to support the performing arts as much as they can. I think the pandemic has decimated the performing arts in many respects and we have to persevere and hopefully realize that there’s a value in the performing arts. I just hope that people don’t give up on the performing arts,” Kenmotsu said.

Aidan Stromdahl

The performance “Living with Myself” is an expression of what it feels like to live with anxiety while in isolation, as we all endure the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s uncertainties. This visual, emotional piece features photos, props and sound effects only to convey the various depths of feelings and uncertainty we individually feel.

Aside from all the obstacles the cast and crew faced, Bridget Benson, junior and director of “Living by Myself,”  mentioned how the cast incorporated COVID-19 guidelines in the play and used it to their advantage.


“MJ Luna designed masks that resembled the stimulus that we’re trying to create. We also had clear, very tall, plexiglass barriers placed all over the stage and they were used as markers so the actors could move around them. They could also be face to face with each other without spreading any kind of germs,” Benson said. 


Students and faculty members were faced with many challenges during the production, but they are excited to share their stories with the rest of the world. 


“I’m hoping that folks are pondering the craft and pondering the work; that they’re appreciating the energy, effort, and creativity that went into the project,” said Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, Professor Jeff Turner. “I hope that what we’ve created can allow folks to continue to ponder the historical moment, the issues the pandemic has raised, and the challenges that we’ve faced as Americans over the past couple of months.” 


Most of the performances premiered on Nov. 14, but some remaining dance performances will be uploaded on Nov. 21. To support the department, the production will be available at tinyurl.com/hutheatre2020 until Dec. 31. The full show can also be watched anytime on the Hamline Theatre YouTube channel: Hamline University Theatre.