WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Sept. 28, 2020 — Theater students study costuming while working on degrees at West Liberty University. This includes lessons on designing and sewing clothing for live stage performances.
The pandemic changed everything though and inspired one class of students to stitch needed facial masks now required for safety.
“Twelve of my students in my first-year costuming class made masks as one of their skill assignments. We then donated these masks to Dr. Daniel Wilson of Family Medical Associates,” explained longtime Technical Director Meta Lasch. “The physician’s office donates the masks to patients in need.”
Students in this class included: MaKenna Berka, Delaney Bird, Callia Byard, Autumn Carver, Merritt Craft. Andy Dillie, Julia Paige Fields, Hayden Heiserman, Odessa Hores, Fiona Rushton, Alexis Woodard and Anna Zills.
“When we started this project, the students didn’t have many sewing skills so it turned out to be a rewarding skill-building assignment. The structure of masks required students to learn basic sewing skills and to learn how to make pleats and work with fabric and design.”
Each student made two masks to donate and a third one for themselves. Overall the class donated 60 facial masks to the doctor’s office.
Lasch has made masks since March, sometimes just to help others out, other times at request from organizations and individuals.
Two of the students who participated in making masks completed the introductory costuming class previously but wanted to help out and include theater tutors Andy Dillie and Odessa Hores.
The theater program has been adjusting throughout the semester to the changes brought by the pandemic and the need for social distancing. The mask making effort is just one of the changes made due to COVID-19.
In lieu of a fall theatre season, the faculty and staff will produce the social distanced, Theatrical Decathlon where students test their abilities over the course of the semester in 10 theatrical events over 10 weeks that include acting, singing, dancing, writing, creating, improvisation, devising, makeup and costuming.
“I came up with the decathlon to allow our students to work on skills needed to be a theatre professional while adhering to the safety guidelines that prevent us from holding regular in-person rehearsals. We tasked ourselves with creating something that allows the student to extend their classroom curriculum in ways that are safe. The decathlon provides small projects that the students can develop in a single week by themselves, or with a partner over zoom. Even without fall productions in the Kelly Theater, and without a large audience, we are focused on the education/training the students receive at West Liberty,” said Director of Theater Mike Aulick.
Typically, the Hilltop Players perform four to five live productions over the course of an academic year.
The students were given the decathlon event one week before the assignments are due, giving them just seven days to work on each assignment. The first week involves monologues and students must memorize and perform a 60 – 90 second monologue from a specific list.
“It was my hope that we could will live stream these events to anyone interested. However, there were issues that made us decide to record them live-to-tape and then share them through YouTube,” he said.
The West Liberty University Theater Program offers a student-focused approach and efforts are made to personalize each student’s curriculum as much as possible within the Bachelor of Arts in Theater degree program.