VALDOSTA – Opening day for Valdosta State University Theatre's latest production is scheduled for Thursday but the opening for the cast lasted several days earlier this month.

Due to the pandemic, VSU Theatre & Dance continues presenting recorded performances online for its productions.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" is scheduled to be available for online viewing Thursday, Feb. 25, through Tuesday, March 2.

VSU Theatre notes the play by Simons Stephens based on Mark Heddon's novel "explores the story of 15-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone," who is "a mathematics genius who has issues with interpreting daily life. We follow his very organized approach to solving a mystery. On this journey, Christopher overcomes his greatest fears and emerges with new strength to face the world and succeed." 

"Curious Incident" won the 2015 Tony Award for best play. And while VSU describes the play as "heartwarming, with elements of humor and pathos," the university warns it has a PG-13 rating for mature themes and language.

Monday, Dr. Melissa R. Porterfield, show director, and Andrew Black, director of photography, were still editing the recorded performance. Porterfield directed a recorded performance late last summer for the VSU Theatre & Dance production of playwright Qui Nguyen's "She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms."

For "Monsters," Porterfield, the cast and crew adopted a Zoom-style technique with performers appearing online in different boxes.

In directing "Curious Incident," Porterfield said she approached the production as recording a live theatre performance but in more of a television/movie style.

"This looks like a videotape of a live theatre performance with edits," she said. 

The crew recorded the entire performance from start to finish with a wide shot of the stage. Then, the cast performed blocks of the play for a series of closeups filmed during a four-day period. 

Porterfield said the crew used four cameras simultaneously for filming. Microphones were hooked to the actors and linked to a sound board so the editing can be done like a television show or movie.

The challenge for the actors, who have been trained for live theatre, was acting in segments of the show and often having to reshoot a scene several times before moving onto the next scene. 

And working without the energy of a live audience.

Porterfield said the experience is giving the student performers and crew experience in working in a film setting where there is no immediate audience reaction, where the energy for a scene must be maintained for possibly hours and the scenes may not be filmed in chronological order.

"It's hard to fuel their fires without an audience," Porterfield said, but as she reminded her student cast and crew, some colleges and universities across the nation canceled their spring seasons because of COVID-19. 

So far, VSU Theatre & Dance is finding ways to continue performing.

To view the performance between Thursday, Feb. 25 through Tuesday, March 2, call VSU Box Office, (229) 333-5973, 2-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The link will be sent to registered audience members as early as Thursday morning.

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