When last semester moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Temple Theaters was faced with a tough reality: Seniors were graduating, the virus was spreading, and there was no plan to hold ‘The Country Wife’ in-person anytime soon.
So, like many artists have done during the pandemic, they adapted.
A group of current students and recent alums performed the play in its entirety via Zoom on Aug. 28 and 29. Cast members joined and left a virtual breakout room that acted as their stage to perform the play for their audience of a few dozen.
“[Our director] said, ‘This last show is for you, just have fun.’ So, we did just that,” Avery Infranco, a senior musical theatre major who played Margery Pinchwife, said. “The recording is ridiculous in the best way.”
The play is a classic work of literature that parodies Puritanism in England. After its release in 1675, ‘The Country Wife’ was banned from theaters for nearly two hundred years, because it was considered explicit despite its obvious messages concerning the corruption of society, according to the Temple Theaters website.
Temple announced its move to online classes in March just before the theater was set to hold its tech week, wrote Allison Ogden, a junior theater production and management major and stage manager for the play, in an email to The Temple News.
“It was an odd and nerve wracking summer because no one had an idea of what was going to happen to the show, it was up and down,” Ogden wrote. “But it was actually pretty easy to move online.”
Johnny Rouleau, a sophomore musical theater major who played Mistress Squeamish in the show, said that the cast wanted to make the show more contemporary.
In this portrayal of ‘The Country Wife’, the actors were not cast strictly by their gender or sexual orientation.
“People are people and love is love and stories are stories and gender and sexual orientation have nothing to do with it,” Rouleau added.
Infranco said the cast clicked ‘right away’ when rehearsing.
“Over the summer I think we actually started to realize how much community we had built prior to our abrupt change of scenery,” Infranco added. “This cast went from being close to being the most wonderfully weirdest family anyone would be lucky to have.”
Being forced to rehearse the play virtually helped the cast shift their focus to their vocal clarity and language, Rouleau said.
“I learned more during this show than I ever have before because of all of the changes and hoops to jump through, but it’s been a huge growing and educational experience,” Rouleau added.