By Hailey Terracino, News Editor
Without a stage, without a live audience, even without the company of their fellow actors, BergenStages performers are finding inspiration in one of the classic media, radio theater. Uploaded to youtube several times a month, the voice-only shows are giving actors a chance to perform again, safely from their homes.
“The joy is just listening to students and young actors realize how important the voice is,” said professor and producer Jim Bumgardner. “I think on stage we always depend on our bodies and physical gestures and our expressions and you can’t do that with radio.”
Since their start five months ago, Bergenstages’s Radio Theater has put on more than 17 performances, all of them classics from the public domain that satisfy. Romantic types will enjoy “Brief Encounter” and “Jane Eyre,” both staples of British film and literature, respectively. Horror fans will enjoy Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” And for sci-fi lovers, they’ve done “The Tenth Planet”, a 1950s thriller about the bond between brothers and, of course, aliens.
A lot of hard work goes into producing these performances. “I will go through and pick a story that is in the public domain, reformat it to make it look more of a script and I’ll edit it lightly so it fits for 2020,” said Bumgardner. Then he finds the actors he wants to use and sends them the script to read. After that, he goes online and picks sounds to go with the performances and sends them to the sound engineer. They have a Webex rehearsal that is recorded and the sound effects are added after. Bumgardner approves the final copy and it is uploaded to their YouTube channel and Facebook .
Many of the actors have missed being able to perform, and this has proven to be a welcomed and beneficial challenge “I’m much more aware now of how I’m using my voice and the choices I make with my voice,” said English and Theater professor Dr. Leigh Jonaitis. “ I would be interested to see how that will translate when we go back on stage.” Many said it makes you a even better stage performer too, “It forces you to listen and react to other actors,” said Bergen alumni Matthew Rella.
Performing remotely has also had its perks as well. “Being able to just turn off my camera and just listen to the other actors I’m working with is really freeing because you’re not being watched and you’ll feel more comfortable taking risks with performing,” said Bergen alumna Christine Dunning.
While they enjoy being able to perform, not being on stage has been a big adjustment for many of the performers. “A big piece of theater is not only working off the energy between you and the other actors, but also the energy of the crowd,” said recent Bergen alum Ray Parente.
Bergenstages plans on putting on plays throughout the semester, with more holiday-themed productions in the works. Anyone interested in joining the productions can contact firstname.lastname@example.org