By Myki Jones
Sopris Theatre Company is excited to begin its 2021-2022 season. The community theater is an entity of Colorado Mountain College (CMC) Spring Valley that brings students and community artists together in a variety of collaborative efforts, involving students of the school’s theater program as well as actors throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. Brad Moore, theater operations manager and a professor of theater at CMC was happy to share some information about the upcoming season.
“We are so, so grateful for the people who have supported us through the pandemic, the audiences, cast and crew that remained loyal and have had a chance to work through all this. We’re happy to get to work again with our family of performers and artists, whether they’re technicians, designers, directors, actors. We just really enjoy being a part of this community and share what we are doing with the theater.”
Even during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sopris Theatre Company was able to bring theater to audiences through online offerings. Before the lockdowns went into effect, the company was in the middle of rehearsals for the classic musical “Kiss Me, Kate.” Due to social distancing requirements and being unable to get the streaming rights to the show, the production ended up falling through. However, with approval from CMC, they were able to find ways to continue. Three COVID-friendly shows included “Rogues Gallery,” “Three Viewings” and “The Nina Variations.”
The shows of the 2020-2021 season were all shot in ways that honored social distancing rules and were then released as scheduled recorded productions. Rehearsals were all done via Zoom and the final “dress rehearsal” and tech week periods were done in a way that paths crossed only at a distance, with the cast and crew wearing masks and then having the spaces disinfected after each scene/monologue was shot.
One silver lining that Moore found in doing these types of shows was the value in “table work” when directing and committing to a show. He will be prioritizing that more going forward.
“I didn’t want to cancel anything. I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oops just kidding, I guess we can’t do that.’ So I sat down and selected a season that I knew we could do in a variety of ways, and part of that included my being able to get the streaming rights to those productions,” explained Moore.
“[This season,] as with everything over the last year and a half, things could change in a heartbeat. The plan right now is that we will be doing a season of theater and we are hoping that we will have live in-person audiences. I am also going to be doing a live stream of one performance the week of each production. In the event that we get in a compromising position with COVID, we may end up doing more recordings and live streams than just once a week.”
Sopris Theatre Company is currently working on protocols for assuring the health and safety of the cast and crew. As the CMC campus is still under a mask mandate, the theater program is finding ways to work with this. Auditions began on Sept. 20, by appointment. Anyone wishing to join the cast is required to wear a mask and social distance while they are in the performing space. Video auditions via Zoom or video submission are also accepted upon request as well. This protocol will remain in place until further notice, and copies of the scripts of the shows are available for hopeful actors upon request.
At the end of this season, the student workshop productions will be displayed. These pieces are student-driven and Moore mentioned a potential new angle to the projects in collaboration with VOICES, another theater-inspired nonprofit that specializes in diverse art creation. The two entities will work with CMC’s Theatre Club, and Moore expressed that this collaboration may work its way into the student productions as well.
“I am hoping that the workshops become completely student-driven, as in the past. I’m sure it will be a very interesting evening of creation and seeing where that takes us. I am really excited about that.”
Along with this season, Moore also shared that they are planning to take one of these shows to The Wheeler Opera House in late January 2022. While the show has yet to be determined, Moore is working quickly and with the intent to find one that fits that vision.
“We will be announcing more auditions for the Wheeler production and the other shows in the season. Like everyone else, we are doing this the best way that we can and trying to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable.”
Sopris Theatre has also been invited to perform at The Ute Theater in Rifle and The Grand Mesa Center for the Arts in Cedaridge, and this will also be the show that is taken to the Colorado Theatre Festival in August of 2022.
For information about shows, tickets and updates, or to become a contributor to Sopris Theatre Company, email email@example.com or call the box office at 970-947-8177.
Brad Moore (center) directs his cast with COVID precautions in place. Courtesy photo.