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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

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‘Seminar’ has successful opening, but faces new challenges to upcoming shows

Paris+Richards+who+plays+the+role+of+Izzy+in+the+production+of+Seminar.+The+cast+rehearsed+in+Lab+School+101+on+Nov.+29+due+to+the+Speech+Arts+building+being+closed+because+of+flooding+and+power+outages.
Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian
Paris Richards who plays the role of “Izzy” in the production of “Seminar.” The cast rehearsed in Lab School 101 on Nov. 29 due to the Speech Arts building being closed because of flooding and power outages.

The Fresno State Department of Theatre and Dance’s new play, “Seminar,” is about four aspiring novelists. All of the drama and uncertainty this week about the play taking place felt like something out of a fiction story.

Two days before “Seminar” opened on Friday, Dec. 1, the Speech Arts building, where the production was supposed to take place in the John W. Wright Theatre, was impacted by power outages and flooding, jeopardizing the play to run as planned.

On Thursday, Nov. 30, Facilities Management gave the green light for the play to start on schedule.

Due to the outages, generators were brought in to power parts of the Speech Arts building to ensure the show would take place.

The generators worked for the first two days of performances. However, the matinee performance scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. has been canceled due to a generator failure, according to an Instagram post by University Theatre.

The play started without delays in the John W. Wright Theatre, but the 48 hours leading up to opening were very stressful for the cast. The first rehearsal after the flooding and power outage was held in Lab School 101 and took place without any props, sets or costumes.

The initial thoughts among the cast were that the power would be fixed on Dec. 5, which would take away three performances. There were even talks of postponing the show until next year according to Paris Richards, who plays the role of ‘”Izzy,’’”

After deciding against that, the cast and the director eventually decided if all else failed, they would perform in Lab School 101.

Even with the limitations of Lab School 101, the cast was determined to make it work if needed.

“I like to believe that performers are adaptable creatures and we can figure out how to get a story to the public no matter where we are,” Richards told The Collegian.

While Richards and the cast still kept their spirits up, the day before the play was nerve-wracking with all of the unanswered questions.

“It was scary, not knowing what was going on, but knowing we were supposed to open the next day was horrifying. In the moment, all I could think about was how much effort our crew did to create such a beautiful set with lights and sounds,” Richards said. “I thought about our costume crew and how their beautifully designed efforts were sitting on the rack in the dressing room and how all of that could potentially never be seen by the public.”

All of these concerns brought Richards back to her first year of high school with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When they announced the uncertainty of our performance due to the flood, I got immediately flashbacks to my 14-year-old self praying for an email to say we were okay to perform,” Richards said. “Although 14-year-old me didn’t get a happy ending, I’m beyond happy and thankful that college me was to perform “Seminar,” and will continue to perform til it’s time to close the curtains.”

Tickets for “Seminar” are available on the University Theatre website and the show runs until Dec. 9.

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