Due to restrictions on social gatherings, Rudder Theatre Complex and its on-campus organization clients have made significant adjustments to their fall semester plans.
The pandemic has prevented most live performances scheduled for this semester from happening. However, that has not stopped Rudder Theatre Complex from providing essential services to the university, and on-campus organizations like MSC Town Hall and MSC OPAS continue working on ways to bring entertainment to audiences virtually.
Rudder Theatre Complex and its staff played a large role in helping the university prepare for this unique semester. Associate director of Rudder Theatre Complex Jason Muchow said Rudder’s multiple venues are being used for large in-person classes.
“Obviously, we have some of the largest venues around, so even with social distancing, we can fit some of the larger classroom capacities,” Muchow said. “All of our venues have classes pretty much [from] 8 or 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, and the auditorium has a Monday night class.”
Since Rudder’s staff has technological expertise, given that they usually assist large-scale productions, the team was also tasked with preparing multiple locations across campus for virtual teaching.
“We were not just responsible for our venue,” Muchow said. “We helped bring 20-plus venues online across the Division of Student Affairs and [helped make] one or two other locations classroom ready. [That included] installing cameras and upgrading microphones.”
One of Rudder’s clients, MSC OPAS, usually brings entertainment to Rudder’s auditorium and theater through musicals, plays and concerts. Following the university closure, the staff decided to cancel the rest of the season’s shows. Executive director Anne Black said the decision was difficult for the team.
“We work all year to put a season together,” Black said. “We were losing the biggest shows of this season [and] we were also losing the ability to announce next season [of shows]. It was really hard.”
However, the staff decided they would find a way to stream live performances to audiences. After reaching out to Choir of Man, a UK-based singing group which performed at Rudder in October 2018, MSC OPAS was able to schedule a live stream event for the fall semester.
“We thought, ‘We’re going to reach out to friends, we’re going to reach out to artists that have been here… and see if they’ll do something for us,’” Black said. “Choir of Man was the first group we called, and they were elated.”
MSC Town Hall is in a similar situation to MSC OPAS. The organization normally brings live music events and other shows to campus. However, this semester they have not had the opportunity to do any in-person events. Despite this setback, chair of MSC Town Hall and animal science senior Travis Neill manages to see the positives of the situation.
“We’re looking at it as a challenge and an opportunity to get really creative with our events,” Neill said. “It’s not necessarily something that’s hindering how we function.”
MSC Town Hall is planning outdoor events and securing special training for its members.
“We’re looking at working with the staff of Rudder to develop our members in terms of training on sound systems, training on putting on events in an auditorium setting and things like that,” Neill said. “Usually, we do that ourselves, but now that the Rudder people aren’t as busy as they normally are, they have more time to work with us.”
Now facing a lull in activity at Rudder, Muchow said he wants to help bring campus events to life.
“Being in the event world, we’re used to running 90 miles an hour for weeks at a time,” Muchow said. “We’re event people. We want to make things happen, so if there are groups out there that have an idea, contact us and if we can help, we will.”