CPAC’s ‘Alone, Together’ offers virtual look at pandemic life March 5-6

COOKEVILLE – It’s March 2020. People everywhere are faced with the threat of a new virus. 

And due to stay-at-home orders and remote learning, many must face it alone.

Or do they?

That’s the idea behind Cookeville Performing Arts Center’s next Backstage Series show, “Alone, Together,” which can be streamed on demand by ticketholders March 5-6.

“This production is totally online,” CPAC’s Matthew Wilson, director, said. “It’s a selection of six plays from a collection of 39 plays written about the last year and how we have adapted – or not adapted – to a more digital lifestyle.”

The show includes “The Most Human Human” by Katie Bender; “Pandemic Therapy” by Jami Brandli; “The Art of Coping” by Idris Goodwin; “Do Not Go, My Love” by Enid Graham; “All the Cranes in the World” by Arlene Hutton; and “Dynamite Sales” by Dan Castellaneta and Deb Lacusta.

Wilson himself is a cast member, along with Emily Remmert, Katie Mannle, Patrick Mannle, Sam Raper, Emily Amonett, Jordyn Strilecky, Calvin Lehman and Ryan Steele. Each actor performs his or her role as if communicating with others through the now-common video communications platform Zoom. 

“Due to the uniqueness of this project and restrictions on how many people could gather, I chose actors I had worked with before rather than holding auditions,” Wilson said. “They are all strong actors, and their ability to adapt to a completely different way of doing theatre has made this a very rewarding experience. I am grateful to all of them for going along with this experiment.”

“Alone, Together” was conceived in March of 2020 as theatre faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara, sought a way to serve their students amid cancellations of in-person theatre productions. Twenty-four playwrights were commissioned to pen 39 monologues and short plays specifically to be performed via Zoom. Each piece – whether comedy or drama – reflects the moment of lockdown and captures the characters’ longing for connection.

“I read all of the plays in the collection and came up with the six that we are producing because they all included the theme of making it through the rough times with some dark humor and self-reflection,” Wilson said.

“Alone, Together” is CPAC’s second stream-on-demand production. The first, “Dads,” was presented in January. The idea for offering a virtual theatre experience came about as CPAC staff discussed alternative ways to produce the remainder of their 2020-21 Backstage season, not knowing how long pandemic restrictions would be in place. 

“It was an excellent solution and worked very well for the first show,” Wilson said. 

Tickets for “Alone, Together” are $10 and may be purchased HERE or by calling 931-528-1313. Patrons will receive an access code to view the plays at their convenience March 5-6. (One vignette, “Do Not Go, My Love,” contains language that may not be suitable for all audiences. Viewers should use discretion.)

“My hope for this production is to show the resiliency of the theatrical arts and the people who dedicate a good portion of their lives to it, just for the joy of doing it,” Wilson said. “We can’t perform the way we usually do? All right – let’s roll up our sleeves and figure this out.”

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