For director Dana Margulies Cauthen, the decision to postpone Thomas Nelson’s performance of “She Kills Monsters” and not cancel it came down to advice she once received in an unrelated matter. That advice was “never cut what can be untied.”
“I am not a cancel, cancel person,” she said. “To me, if felt better to untie it, to put it on the shelf.”
Originally set for weekend performances April 3 -11, the play will be a virtual production Oct. 30, 31 and Nov. 1.
“The way it will work is we do the stream and then we delete it,” Cauthen said. “It’s not a forever thing. It’s still a temporary piece of art, just like normal theater.”
With all that is going on in the world, Cauthen also thinks continuing with the performance is something theater kids really need, calling it “incredibly important.”
She’s involved in several area theater groups, and as far as she knows, all the shows in production at the time social restrictions went into effect are on hold with the hopes of them being done when those theaters reopen.
She compared it to an artist who is working on a sculpture.
“Just because they have to stop working on it at that point doesn’t mean you take the clay and make it into a ball again,” Cauthen said. “Sometimes in the arts, we leave things and then we come back to them later. It’s a little different with a stage show, but it’s sort of the same concept.”
While the decision to continue with the show didn’t take long, it did take awhile for Cauthen, Michael Sundblad (Performing Arts chair), Sandra Calderon-Doherty (speech and drama professor) and Jim Worthey (Mary T. Christian Auditorium manager) to decide how to make it happen.
“We met every week,” Cauthen said. “We batted around so many ideas I can’t even begin to tell you.”
Among the options were building sets where the actors would be socially distant, and having the performance outside.
“What happens is you fall into these traps and go, ‘This is a fantastic idea. We could totally do something outside,’” Cauthen said.
But then logistics, including bathroom access, present more problems than first realized.
“There are so many variables,” Cauthen said.
She said the stage production was “in a really good place” at the time it was shut down.
“We were doing runs. We were pretty far in,” she said.
Luckily, none of the roles had to be recast as all the actors are available in the fall also. However, the script was updated by the playwright to adapt it to an online performance. All of which has Cauthen excited about the new show. And she is trying to remain positive during the pandemic.
“I think that’s when Shakespeare wrote all his best stuff, quarantining from the plague,” she said with a laugh.