We usually use the phrase “production value” in reference to the perceived quality of the finished product: the production we present to an audience. Here we use the phrase more literally, in reference to the values that will guide the creation of our Spring production of Romeo and Juliet. They include, but are not limited to:
An adaptation process that is driven by student input.
The relentlessness of the academic calendar shrinks conception time down to what can feel like almost nothing, and it is often impossible to coordinate an expansive, inclusive pre-production process. The impact of Covid-19 and the current restructuring of the professional theatre to address racial injustice have dismantled our production models. This time of transition is precisely the moment to slow down and experiment with flattened organizational structures, particularly during pre-production.
A production process that leans fully into the creative, educational, and outreach opportunities of a distanced process.
We keep using language (and I am certainly guilty of this as well!) that presents production possibilities as “best case,”- ie. with full audiences, no mask, no social distancing, and “worst-case,” i.e. completely distanced both in production and in performance. So much of our frustration as theatre makers over the past year has come from dashed hopes of a return to "normal". For all the ways that Covid-19 has severely limited our ability to produce a conventional theatre production for a live audience, it is also an opportunity to reconsider the forms collaborative multi-modal storytelling can take. Form will ultimately serve function, with the artistic choices driven by our intentions as storytellers determining the parameters of production.
A production process that furthers broader goals students have expressed for the Theatre program.
In weekly meetings with all the faculty, staff, and students in the Theatre department, the students expressed a commitment to building outreach and collaboration with other departments and student groups on campus. They also aspire to provide a model for not just student perseverance but excellence in the time of Covid-19.
A process and production that practices and embodies equity and anti-racism.
The typical university canon of dramatic literature is based in racist theatrical pedagogy, and Shakespeare is a large and intractable part of that racist canon. Both the theory and praxis of theatre production in the United States are rooted in white supremacy, and we must actively identify, eradicate, and replace these practices and the dangerous assumptions behind them. This is work that takes time, and that time must be built into the production process.
Albright College Theatre