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In Class Titled 'Theatre Problems,' Student Playwrights, Directors Tackle A 'Huge' One: COVID-19

Screenshot from Zoom
Miami Dade College student Gabriella Mederos portrays the character Velma in a short untitled play written by a classmate. The class typically puts on a summer production, but this year, the coronavirus forced the show online.

Each spring, theater students at Miami Dade College write short plays. And then in the summer, they translate them from the page to the stage.

The summer class is titled “Theatre Problems,” honoring the challenges they have to work through to produce, direct and act in the plays. This year, the course really lived up to its name.

“The problem is huge,” said Aaron Alpern, a professor and the theatre program coordinator at Miami Dade College’s Kendall campus. Spoiler alert: He’s talking about COVID-19.

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“How do you do a show, how do you perform, how do you have theatre without theater?” he said. That’s the name of the class’ show this year: Theatre Without Theater.

The students’ performance of their six 10-minute plays won’t be in front of a live audience — but it will be streaming live online Thursday.

One of the plays — “Untitled,” by Yesenia Ginzo — features two characters, an older woman and a younger woman, having a frank conversation about sex. It’s set in a bathroom.

In the virtual version, one character performs via the video chat app from her bathtub. The other is sitting on the floor of her own bathroom, leaning against the wall about eye-level with the toilet paper dispenser. While they’re not in the same room, the Zoom format supports the illusion that they are, with the camera shots switching back and forth as they deliver their lines.

“I'm really inspired by the students, and I'm cheered by … their creativity and ingenuity,” Alpern said.

Up to 100 people will be able to watch the performance at 8 p.m. on July 2. Tune in by accessing this Zoom link and using the password “Online.”