Theatre During a Pandemic: Annie Jump and the Library of Heaven

It is no secret that the past seven months have made everyone's life a bit more complicated. Theatre departments everywhere were shut down and shows were postponed indefinitely. This is a serious detriment to the theatre community, given that most shows are a part of live theatre.

However, this pandemic was no match for AU’s Drama department. From March to September the cast of Annie Jump and the Library of Heaven did not miss a beat and continued their rehearsals on zoom all the way until September when they blocked their entire play in just two rehearsals.

The play, written by Reina Hardey, was composed in 2019 and was chosen to be performed on campus because it is a very modern play. A story of a 13-year-old science prodigy whose father is not very respected in the town of Strawberry, Kansas was performed September 16-19 at the AU Observatory and only seated twenty-five audience members, due to social distancing guidelines. Actors were outside late at night in thirty-degree weather, but that did not stop them from putting on a great show about hope and faith.

The director of Annie Jump, Eliza Beckwith, graduated from AU in 78’ to pursue directing in the city, and came back to Alfred last semester to cast and direct Annie Jump. She describes the casting process as quite easy and says, “I think we got the best cast possible.” Once the play was cast, they got started with rehearsals right away. Unfortunately, students were sent home in March due to the Covid-19 outbreak but that did not stop this cast. They continued to have rehearsals on zoom in hopes of doing the show live in the near future.

Once they were back on campus this September, the cast waited until in-person classes resumed (with social distancing guidelines) to get together and stage the show at the Observatory. This was done across two rehearsals in just seven hours. What was supposed to be an exceedingly high-tech show that took place in the CD Smith Theatre turned out to be a very low-tech show which matched that of a black box theatre in the way that some of the props and scenery were left up to the imagination of the audience.

Beckwith wants people who saw Annie Jump to forget about the chaos of 2020, “I really just want everyone to forget about everything going on in life and enjoy live theatre again.” She then went on to say “Theatre is not dead… Just figure out another way to do it… It’s just about being positive.”

By Jeanni Floyd


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