Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia Southern University’s theater students usher in a new show exploring a fresh look at a common reality: a world where physical contact and touch may not be possible.
The appropriately named “Touch,” directed by Theatre Professor Lisa Abbott, is a collection of sketch, dance, and song fully developed by the cast and production team of students and faculty, and reflects their first-hand experience with life in the reality of COVID-19 and what touch truly means in a world without it.
“I was watching a news report on patients in the hospital who couldn’t have family members visit and were literally not being touched, other than through the gloves and plastic of PPE.” Abbott said. “I started thinking about the way this fundamental thing–touch–has been taken away. So we decided on that as the focal point and prompt for the show.”
Focusing on three major aspects of touch, the show looks at the way common pastimes and activities, such as vlogging, dating, and Dungeons and Dragons, have been affected by quarantine, and explores the concepts of good, bad, and the healing touch with both serious and silly sketches.
According to Abbott, COVID-19 has had a greater effect on the show than giving it a plot; preparation, rehearsal, and presentation has all been greatly influenced by the pandemic, unfortunately mostly for the worse.
“Students are having to do their work without an audience and without the normal means of storytelling.” Abbott reported. “Being in the room together brings an energy to the work that Zoom just zaps from you; We made the choice to set up all the students in individualized Zoom rooms throughout the Center for the Art and theater to allow us more control over connectivity, and our designers can adjust sound light and camera angles as we work.”
Regardless, Abbott has faith that her students will persevere, claiming that the pandemic has brought out the best in her students.
“I think this performance will show the incredible creative talent of our students, as well as offer insights into the things they think are important about our world right now. Combining Zoom technology with prerecorded sections shows the adaptability of the entire program and all our students, designers, and technicians as well as actors.”
“Touch” premieres tonight, and will be streamed live from Zoom and hosted on Vimeo from today until November 15. For more information on and access to the show, please visit http://www.georgiasouthern.edu/theatre.