The Theory of Relativity showcases WT’s versatile Theater Department

The West Texas A&M University Theater Department has sent out their production of “The Theory of Relativity” for streaming. 

The main ensemble cast join together to lip-sync the grand finale. (Jonah Dietz)

The song cycle by Neil Bartram based on the book by Brian Hill, focuses on communicating the interconnected beauty of college students’ human interactions and emotions mainly through song. The premise and the songs blend together to create an earnest tapestry of shared university life experience superbly, and stand in direct opposition, directorially, with the abilities performers have in the nation’s current scenario to act out these ideas on stage in front of an audience. Singing, being a dangerous spreader of COVID-19, and the requirements to have actors and chorus members on stage, together, in close confinements, make this property an impossible task to complete live and in person safely. Instead, through various recording techniques and social distanced choreography, the performances have been filmed and spliced together to create a unique blend of theater and film.

            Director Bradley Behrmann, assistant professor of musical theatre, has had his chorus film themselves in their own homes and put them in the background behind the lip-syncing main ensemble, who stand just far enough apart as they pretend to belt out their excellent pre-recorded notes on a black stage accentuated by glowing lines and projections of numbers. 

The stories strung out loosely along the principle of Einstein’s relativity formula play out across WTAMU’s campus, the Palo Duro Canyon and local Canyon shops where actors were filmed solitarily, or Zoom screens, where members of the cast chat about college life in a way that is very real for current college students. By having to step outside of the theater, this production manages to actually highlight the versatility and scope of the college community as it belts out intricate declamations on complex everyday life experiences in the confines all college students find themselves in. But despite these confines, the production succeeds in bringing the original emotions and messages of the cycle across.

            The process was not easy, as many performers either took ill, were quarantined, or had to relearn or completely discover ways of acting in the new medium. But aside from a few dodgy bouts of uncoordinated lip-synching, the entire performance manages to grab and keep the viewer’s attention, tug at heartstrings and entertain by way of showcasing the truly talented students of the WT Theatre Department.

            Main ensemble members are Socorra Carrillo, Veronica Crawley, Colin Fields, Erin Gayan, Hanna Green, Mitch Grosso, Anna Holmes, Hayley Hurst, Michael Olinger, ShyAnne Peterson, Nolan Quintanilla, Caitlen Richison; Abbi Roe, Jonny Spruill, Aidan Tsichlis, Conner Unwin and Carley Venter.

Featured ensemble members are Wyatt Brownell, Joey Hill, Lauren Landtroop, Alexis Martinez, Caitlynn Sandoval and Hunter Schineller. The chorus consists of Carter Berryhill; Maggie Connick, Coco Dietz, Cassidy Horton, Peyton Kerr, Lorna Lominac, Caleb Martinez, Brianna Moen, Savannah Poor, Mackenzie Privett, Audrey Riedling, Hannah Segrist, Bella Walker and Joseph Ward.

One performance remains for viewers who missed yesterday’s. Tickets are free for WTAMU students and staff, and $15 for the general public. Tickets are available by calling 806-651-2804, emailing [email protected], visiting the WTAMU Theatre Facebook page or visiting the WTAMU Theatre website.