Students reflect on Pittsburgh Playhouse returning to in-person performances


Photo by Alexis Wary

Written By Alexis Wary, For The Globe

For the first time in over a year, the Pittsburgh Playhouse is holding in-person shows once again. Students who work with the Playhouse are having more in-person classes than last year and get to learn face to face with fellow students and faculty.

“I think with the vaccine and with the requirement of the vaccine, that students are feeling a little more comfortable to be on campus. So it’s nice to see everyone’s faces again,” theater arts major Mary Felix said.

Multiple productions with different groups are in progress or are planned for the future. Theatre production major Madelyn Miessmer is the Assistant Lighting Designer for the musical “Curtains,” which opened on Wednesday, Oct. 13 and ran through Sunday, Oct. 17 in the PNC Theatre.

Felix will be working on two in-person shows for this semester. One is through the Raymond Laine One Acts Festival and the other will be through Pinnacle Productions, called “The Effect” by Lucy Prebble.

Even as the vaccine has been released and the pandemic seems to have slowed down, Covid-19 is still real and recently cases have begun to rise again. To make sure the Playhouse and COPA students can still be on ground, The playhouse is taking major precautions and is following Point Park’s policy.

For people who are attending shows, they are required to show proof of vaccination and wear masks the whole show. Students are required to be vaccinated unless exempt and students are to wear masks.
“On top of that the cast for ‘Curtains’ was repeatedly tested in order to ensure the safety of the cast, crew, and audience,” Miessmer said.

As most have experienced, learning and working through classes last year was unique and almost unreal. Many schools across the country were completely and fully online. However, Point Park, being a smaller school, still had the option for some classes to be in person with social distancing and masking in place.

Miessmer was able to still be in person for some of her classes. She talked about how being a theater production major is super hands-on and would have been impossible over Zoom.

Being able to be face to face allowed for her experience last year, classes-wise, to not feel too off. Despite that, shows last year were recorded and presented virtually.

“Shows were all recorded last year, which was quite the experience,” Miessmer said. “While doing recorded shows wasn’t as fun of an experience, I still found myself learning a lot last year. A variety of obstacles presented themselves when it came to looking at theatre through a film lens and while I don’t know if I’ll ever be in a situation like that again I was happy to be able to learn.”

Felix found one of the main struggles last year was the incorporation of the people learning online with the people in person. She also mentioned that following all of the CDC guidelines was necessary but definitely challenging.

Living in the pandemic lifestyle for so long made coming back to a more normal year a little intimidating.

“Classes and shows are more demanding, I would say there’s more expectations for everyone individually,” Felix said.

Compared to last year, many students feel very different about the way they were learning and how it shaped them for this year and the future. For Felix, she is feeling more comfortable to be back in person with all of the advancements with the vaccines and required guidelines.

“I think with the vaccine and with the requirement of the vaccine, that students are feeling a little more comfortable to be on campus,” Felix said.

Miessmer talked about how she had missed having in-person live shows but has learned a lot from her experiences last year. She has appreciated the ability to have more time to prepare for shows and not feel so crunched for deadlines.

The pandemic has forced students and organizations to adapt and make new changes to make sure students still gain a beneficial education, despite the obstacles. The Pittsburgh Playhouse couldn’t hold in-person shows, but it made returning to live on-ground performances that much better for students, faculty, and attendees.