With the pandemic limiting most operations in the theatre world, one student organization has created an opportunity to maneuver these challenges.

This weekend, InterMission Theatre presents “72 Hour Virtual Plays,” with the goal of bringing talented students together to organize and stage plays for one weekend only.

Josie Brandmeier, a senior at the University of Wisconsin, produced “72 Hour Virtual Plays.” Amidst University Theatre’s cancellation of the 2020-21 season, Brandmeier developed the weekend-long event to offer students a modified opportunity to be involved in theatre.

The participants began their endeavor Thursday at 7:30 PM and will present their finished works exactly 72 hours later, on Sunday at 7:30 PM via Facebook Live.

This is the first time IMT has done a virtual performance, and around campus, it’s one of the only ways to participate in student theatre at this time.

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IMT organized five teams, each consisting of a writer, director and three to four actors. Thursday night, the teams received their respective prompts — a noun, feeling and phrase — and began to brainstorm.

“Our noun was ‘film,’ our feeling was ‘hesitant’ and our line was ‘they’re not here anymore,’” writer and grad student Kerry Billings said.

On Friday, writers like Billings were given the full day to write out their 10-15 minute shows. And by Saturday morning, the actors and directors took the finished scripts and began to rehearse over Zoom.

As they rehearsed, each team worked with the production’s stage manager, Sarah Candee. Candee has experience in stage management but said the virtual nature of the event provided a unique challenge.

“So far, I’ve been doing what a usual stage manager does, which is schedule rehearsals and tech and gather information, but the real change comes when we perform,” Candee said.

Rather than providing the cues and directions as she would in a physical play, Candee works with a software called Ecamm Live.

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This software allows her to manipulate the sound and overall viewing experience. She can add transitions and music, which she said has taught her and the production team a lot about virtual broadcasting.

During the performances, Candee uses both Ecamm Live and Facebook applications to enhance what the audience sees. She thinks this expansion of her role will allow more room for each team’s creativity.

“I think their independence is part of why this will be so successful,” Candee said. “The students that have elected to do this have enough ambition and ability to make this happen.”

Each of the plays will then live stream on Facebook on Sunday, concluding the dense, marathon-like weekend for these hardworking students.

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During the stream, IMT is holding a fundraiser for Freedom Inc., a nonprofit serving low-income communities of color in Madison. Audience members can vote for their favorite show by sending donations to their GoFundMe, helping the social justice organization make an impact on the Madison Community

Take a look at their website and student org page to learn more about their organization. 

During the performance, audience members will be able to “vote” for their favorite show by sending in donations. All of the proceeds will be going to Freedom Inc., a social justice organization that is very prevalent in the Madison community.

For more information, please visit their online Facebook event.

InterMission Theatre has delighted audiences with their talented group of students for years, and with opportunities like “72 Hour Virtual Plays,” not even a pandemic can stand in their way.