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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

City Theatre presents “Home for the Holidays…Welcome Back!”

Photo courtesy of City Theatre.

City Theatre was back this past weekend finishing its 2021 season with “Home for the Holidays…Welcome Back,” a livestreamed show comprised of nine short holiday-themed plays, accompanied by new monologues. The second round of performances will be Thursday, Dec. 2 to Sunday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m., with an additional 2 p.m. performance on Sunday. 

The nine short plays are all written by local playwrights, including Jes Gonzales, Joy Hall Gee, David Martin, Mike Poe, Michael Pollock, John Pual Pressburg-Nevans, Roberta Ramirez Sanchez, Tim Sapunor and Donya Wicken. Luther Hanson, a professor of theater arts and film at City College, directs the short-play festival. 

The nine plays include “Mandatory Retreat,” “May I play Your Piano?,” “Welcome Back to the Lodge,” “Ghostlight 2, Time is Weird,” “Firmly Lodged,” “Maybe I Can Learn Something,” “Puppet Meet-Up,” “From the Cells of the Plague Monks,” “Cookies,” “Old Movies,” “What are the Chances?” and “Security Blanket.” 

As with other productions that City Theatre has performed during the pandemic, City Theatre is again working with the film and music department to live stream the performances. 

Kat Hansell, the stage manager for the “Home for the Holidays…Welcome Back” production, said the theatre department has worked hard to create a safe and comfortable environment for the actors and crew. 

Hansell said that the production has been in compliance with mask wearing, while the audience is able to enjoy the show comfortably from their own homes. 

“[We] are hoping to bring people some comfort in these uncomfortable times,” Hansell said.

The crew has been directing the show for camera angles rather than a live audience, which has presented an interesting challenge for Luther Hanson, the director of the play, Hansell said.

Hansell loves this production because she gets to work with local playwrights. She appreciates the different styles of writing and getting to see their work come to life through the actors. 

Nicole Sivell, the production’s costume designer, has been costuming for City Theatre throughout the pandemic and has been a part of all the adjustments the department has made to put on hybrid performances. 

“It’s pretty different. When costuming you have to consider very carefully the theater space that you’re in,” Sivell said. “Doing this sort of hybrid of live theater, but having it live cast to an on-screen audience … we’ve got to consider the large picture across the stage… but [it] also has to be picture perfect.” 

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Sivell has had to adapt her work around the pandemic several times already. During the lockdown last year, no one was allowed on campus or able to be in person in any capacity; everything had to be remote. 

“All of our actors were in their own homes. And we set them up with what we called ‘show kits.’ We gave them webcams, microphones, lighting equipment, costumes — anything they needed to set up,” Sivell said.    

Since actors are still wearing masks, Sivell said the production crew has been challenged to figure out how to incorporate masks into the performance, while working around how they affect sound and appearance. 

“We had to work out what sorts of masks would allow the actors to still project and be heard,” Sivell said. “What sorts of masks fit their characters? Does this character wear an N95 because she’s super cautious? Something simple? Or something that shows their quirky personality?” 

Sivell said the theater department had purchased special masks that are designed for vocal work for the theater’s “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play” performance.

“We used those for the ‘Mr. Burns’ production but opted not to use them for the holiday show because they’re kind of funny looking,” Sivell said. “The director felt it was more important to have the characters look more natural rather than have them sound clearer.”        

Sivell mentioned how faculty from other departments have been helping with sound and audio as well, like Kirt Shearer, an associate professor in the music department and the audio consultant for the production. Sivell said Shearer has enhanced the show by live mixing the audio during performances.

Emmy Harmon, the assistant stage manager for the production, is also glad that the crew has the support of the music and film department to pull off the show during the pandemic. 

“All of our actors are wearing microphones and the audio levels are being controlled by students in one of professor Shearer’s classes,” Harmon said. “Professor Anderson in the film department and several of her students are in charge of the actual film and live streaming of the production to our audience at home. This is really a collaborative process that gives students real-world experience in their major and I am glad to be a part of the whole process.” 

The cast of the production includes Sarah Palmero, Elisabeth Beatmen, Kellee Grimes, Racine Strong, Mike Poe, Kathleen Poe, Joe Kowalski, Lauren Ormond, Mariah Coburn, John Paul Pressburg-Nevans, Tim Sapunor, Ted Muhlhauser, Noah Galvan and Robin Sanchez. 

Tickets may be purchased on the City Theatre website.

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