OSU Theatre debuts return to in-person performances with Bard in the Quad

From left to right, Abrianna Feinauer as Dromio of Ephesus, Hannah Schwartz as Luciana and Samantha Johnson as Adriana during a dress rehearsal for Bard in the Quad. This summer, Bard in the Quad will take place in person with “Comedy of Errors,” on August 5-8 and 12-15 in the Memorial Union Quad at 7:30 p.m. 

Cara Nixon, News Contributor

Imagine you’re sitting in the Memorial Union Quadsurrounded by community, eating delicious snacks from a picnic basket and enjoying the summer breeze, the company of friends and live theatre. 

That’s the Oregon State University Bard in the Quad experience, and after a year and a half of audio shows and video productions, OSU Theatre is returning to live performances with their annual Shakespeare summer event. 

Bard in the Quad has been a Corvallis theatre staple since 2006, but last year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, OSU Theatre performed “Macbeth” via audio podcast for a special “Bard in Your Yard” event. 

This summer, Bard in the Quad will take place in person with “Comedy of Errors” on Aug. 5-8 and 12-15 in the Memorial Union Quad starting at 7:30 p.m. each performance night.

The ticket box office will open at 6:30 p.m. on performance nights, with admission being $5 for OSU students, $17 for adults and $12 for individuals under the age of 18 or are seniors. Ticket prices are lower if patrons buy tickets online early$15 for adults and $10 for those under 18 or are seniors. 

After a year and a half of remote productions, Elizabeth Helman, area coordinator for OSU Theatre, is more than ready to get back to live, in-person performances. 

“Theatre is public assembly,” Helman said. “That’s what it isit’s people getting together and sharing space, [meaning] a physical space together in real time. We’ve really had to think on our feet and come up with a lot of creative solutions to keep people safe.” 

Though the number one priority during the pandemic has been to keep students, colleagues and the community safe, Helman said another priority has been making sure students are still learning valuable lessons about theatre. To continue giving students hands-on, creative experience, OSU Theatre produced audio dramas over the summer and fall of 2021, which are available on the Dam the Distance podcast. 

During winter term, after multiple proposals, the department got approved for a COVID-19 safe video production called “Ten Minutes at the Townsend.” Rehearsals for that project were remote via Zoom, but the cast and crew were able to have limited in-person time to film. 

This last spring, OSU Theatre, instead of doing a mainstage play like usual, focused their energy on creating a video version of its annual Spring One-Act Festival

Now with Bard being live and in person, the “Comedy of Errors” cast and crew are very excited to be back on stage (the MU Quad) with an audience. 

Srimanyu Ganapathineedi is a fourth-year design and innovation management student, and he’s acting as Antipholus S. in “Comedy of Errors. 

Though the audio shows were fun and gave him the chance to explore voice acting, Ganapathineedi said he really missed performing in front of a live audience. 

Ganapathineedi said despite the COVID-19 restrictions, he has noticed that in-person rehearsals are similar to those before the pandemic. 

“I think what changed is people are more excited than before,” Ganapathineedi explained. “Before, it’s lifeit’s just a hobby that we do, and we didn’t know we were going to miss it. Now people have missed it for almost a year and a half. These are talented people in the show, and they’re all excited and then giving their absolute best, and that’s the difference that I’ve seen…Usually, it’s our job to give it, and now it’s just all about passion.” 

Haille Lantz, a fourth-year theatre and political science student and stage manager for “Comedy of Errors,” said Bard in the Quad is “the perfect way to come back,” especially because the event is considered a community staple. 

Throughout the pandemic, Lantz has worked on OSU Theatre’s remote productions, and she said COVID-19 definitely changed her role as stage manager. Though the position has always been about keeping people safe, it became more intense as she had to keep people safe and healthy during a global pandemic. 

Like Ganapathineedi, Lantz said she is most excited to have an audience again. 

With COVID-19 restrictions lifted at OSU, Bard in the Quad is expected to be similar to the event’s previous shows before the pandemic, especially because the spread of COVID-19 is less likely to occur in outdoor spaces. 

Helman said they will be encouraging patrons to sit with their party, and behind the scenes, masks are required at fittings and physical distance between people in dressing rooms has been created. She also said there is constant communication with the cast and crew about health. 

Helman said she is excited to see the community come together for this event. 

“Seeing a community come together, and you see these families come back year after year, and they’re bringing their kids, and it’s the first time for some of these kids seeing a live performance,” Helman said. “People packing picnics and just coming together in this fun, casual environment, and just being together and sharing a story. There’s something really lovely about that whole atmosphere that I’m excited about getting to be a part of again.” 

There is a tentative OSU Theatre lineup for fall, according to Helman, but there are no specifics being announced to the public yet. 

“We certainly want to do a season that acknowledges and kind of celebrates what we’ve all been through this last year,” Helman said. 

Helman explained the plan is to return to three mainstage productions, two lab shows—which are student-led, student-focused productions—and one-acts in the spring. 

“I just hope the community and our audiences are as excited as we are to be back,” Helman said.