Bradford group adapts live theatrical show to podcast

As any good theater person knows, the show must go on — even in a pandemic

At Pitt–Bradford, Kevin Ewert, professor of theater, and his students have turned their original production “Monsters,” which was supposed to be presented to a live studio theater audience, into a podcast available for listening on Pitt-Bradford’s YouTube channel.

Every other spring, Ewert leads his students through the creation of an entirely new production — written, directed and designed by students, who are also the actors, stagehands, set designers, prop masters and more

The all-female cast wanted to create something to address identity, gender, victim blaming, mental health and sexual politics. In early improvisation exercises, they adopted mythological characters and threw them into various situations to explore these contemporary themes.

“It was in playing with the female characters and their wild backstories from Greek mythology that we found our guiding question,” Ewert said in a news release. “Where are all the epic quest stories with women?”

Students started to create scenes straight out of a Dungeons and Dragons game: assembling a team, encountering monsters, solving riddles, going on side quests, resisting temptations and, of course, fighting a Big Bad.

Ewert said they had structured the show and improvised almost all the scenes before spring break, when students were asked not to return to campus because of the coronavirus pandemic. “It was a lot of fun. It seemed too good to just let it go,” he said.

To adapt to an audio presentation, parts of the script were rewritten to focus on sounds instead of visuals. They moved rehearsals online via teleconferencing software, then each person recorded their audio from home.

Patrick Tanner, Pitt­–Bradford technical director, mixed the audio from home, adding effects, soundscapes and music.

Students taking part in the creation and performance were Anna Bajowsky, an interdisciplinary arts major from Bradford; Brooke Imbriale, an interdisciplinary arts major from Beaver Falls; Erica Isenberg, an interdisciplinary arts and business management student from Warren; Julie Kephart, a biology major from York; and Julian Rowe, an interdisciplinary arts major from Spring Hill, Fla.