Posted on: November 4, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Emaly Culich (left) and Bernadette Gillard rehearse a scene from “How To Survive a Pandemic.” (AP Photo/Glenn Carpenter)

By Sarah Schudt, A&E Editor

How To Survive A Pandemic

Academic theater at Moraine Valley is finally back after more than a year of silence. The first show to start the 2021-2022 season is “How to Survive a Pandemic.”

Theater professor Craig Rosen, the director and co-conceiver of the show, described the show as being akin to a satirical “Saturday Night Live” show with skits, sketches, and monologues. It’s a way to look at the ongoing pandemic in a lighthearted manner without dismissing its impact.

“It is kind of like a revue with some serious aspects,” Rosen said.

Unlike most shows the academic theater department has done, this show is an entirely new work. It was created by the show’s cast members. For most of the cast, it is their first show at Moraine.

“For [this cast] to be all new, it’s interesting and exciting, because as horrible as these two years have been, I think a lot of the departments have hit reset to evaluate, ‘Hey, what have we been doing? What changes should we do? Talk to students about what they need,’ so having a new group is a way to kind of do that a little bit,” Rosen said.

Improv was used to develop the show during the rehearsal process. The ideas the cast came up with during the rehearsal process were trimmed and tightened by Jennie Lamb, a Chicago playwright and co-conceiver of the show, to create a cohesive whole. Lamb teaches theater part-time at Moraine.

Ashanti Norals, a member of the cast, says, “Everyone gets equal focus in the play. This show is based off of improv ideas that were combined into one. For most of the show, I play as myself!”

The cast of “How to Survive a Pandemic” talk during rehearsal. (AP Photo/Glenn Carpenter)

Described as a “pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral look at the end of days,” the show is a way of moving on from the trauma of the past two years, and a way of looking forward to new shows at Moraine. Although it is humorous, it does not dismiss what people went through during quarantine.

“We always try to have realistic scenes that the audience can relate to or knows someone that deals with this certain topic,” said Norals. “We included relatable situations that people may have experienced during the pandemic.”

The past year and a half has been rough on a lot of people, but Norals hopes the audience walks away from the show with a sense of renewed hope and joy in life.

“I hope the audience knows that it’s not just about surviving. It’s more about living through it and facing unimaginable challenges they never thought they would. Whatever way the audience got through this determines how much growth they’ve had in the past year and a half.”

“How to Survive a Pandemic,” runs Nov. 11-14 in the Dorothy Menker Theater in the FPAC building. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased here.