NMSU Theatre Department starts rehearsals for in-person shows


Emma Hood

Rehearsals for the fall theatre season are underway

Fall 2021 rehearsals are underway for the New Mexico State University Department of Theatre Arts. The three plays scheduled throughout the semester, “Fefu and Her Friends”, “The Thanksgiving Play” and “Syd the Solstice Kid” will mark the return of live theatre to NMSU.  

NMSU Theatre Arts Department Head Wil Kilroy is excited to see students performing in front of audiences again.  

“Even though we gave them a lot of opportunities in the last year and we filmed all these different things and did some wonderful shows, it’s just not the same, you know, because theatre is really a communion between the audience and the performers,” Kilroy shared. 

“Fefu and Her Friends”, the first performance of the semester, will be directed by Nichole Hamilton and will run from Sept. 24-Oct. 3. The second performance, “The Thanksgiving Play”, directed by Claudia Billings, will run from Oct. 16-Oct. 17. The final performance of the semester, “Syd the Solstice Kid”, directed by Wil Kilroy, will run from Nov. 17-Nov. 27.  

All shows will be general admissions with “Fefu and Her Friends” being the exception with a limit of 80 people per show, Kilroy explained.  

Currently, cast members of “Fefu and Her Friends” are rehearsing in masks and social distancing. 

“What’s happening is they’re going to rehearse in masks until our technical weekend, and that’s when we add in all the lights, and scenery, and costumes and all that good stuff, and then they have to, within 72 hours of that rehearsal, have a negative [COVID-19] test, whether they’re vaccinated or not,” Kilroy said.  

Kilroy explained that the stage crew will remain in their masks throughout the entirety of the show, while cast members will only remove their masks when they go onstage. 

“That’s our hope- that the audience gets to see a real show with real faces, and the actors will be more than six feet away from the audience, the way the set is designed,” Kilroy said.  

NMSU College Professor of Scenic and Lighting Design Jim Billings explained that set design planning for the Fall 2021 performances has been taking place before summer started. 

“The process typically from when you have your first formal design meeting until opening night is often about six weeks and that’s pretty typical, but because we’re a little shorthanded and we’re very short on budget, we have to plan ahead,” Billings said.  

For the first play of the semester, “Fefu and Her Friends,” Billings had an interesting challenging, as audiences will be invited on stage with the performers to watch several different scenes in four different groups at the end.  

“On the floor plans for these little scenes, I have a big red circle where each of them [performers] is going to be, and that’s a six-foot diameter so that they can say ‘Oh, okay well this is as close as we can be,’” Billings said. “Then I made other circles for the audience members so I know how they can be spaced.” 

Last year, due to the performances being delivered virtually, Billings was not involved with the productions, aside from the light design for “The Shakespeare Project”.  

“I did teach a full load both semesters last year, but it’s really frustrating to not have, like, real life examples when I’m talking about something in one of my design processes,” Billings shared.  

Billings explained that he is looking forward to seeing audience members back in the theatre seats. 

“It’s been a long time. It is one of the scariest things for somebody involved in the theatre, because the business has literally been closed down worldwide for almost two years,” Billings said.

Tickets for the upcoming shows can be purchased here.  

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