The Return of Theatre at WPU
COVID-19 brought the theatre community to a halt all over the world, including the William Peace University (WPU) Theatre. Although theatre students were able to continue their training in classes, they were not able to perform in main stage shows for a full year. The 2021-2022 school year welcomed theatre students back to the stage.
Amy Pridgen, associate professor of theatre and musical theatre at WPU, said she is overjoyed to see the return of theatre.
“There have been valiant efforts across the theatre community (WPU included) to keep theatre going safely: solo shows, virtual plays, drive-in theatre with quarantined actors,” said Pridgen, “But, I think we’d all admit none of it has compared to being in an actual theatre with a group of actors and a live audience. The energy in that environment is unbeatable. We’re finally getting that back and it feels incredible.”
The 2021-22 WPU Theatre season includes performances such as The Wolves, Working the Musical, Red Badge of Courage, and Zombie Prom. These shows rely on tight-knit ensembles, and push students to cultivate new skills such as learning how to play soccer, learning how to do a pony step, and learning the art of the Suzuki Acting Method, which enables actors to build awareness of their body.
Multiple performances had sold out audiences, and were reviewed by notable critics in the Triangle. Dustin K. Britt, who writes for Chatham Life and Style, a theatre review publication, said that WPU students got the job done in their production of “Working”
“The show’s greatest asset is its performers. William Peace University continues to serve as one of the area’s most effective training grounds for emerging theatre artists,” Britt said.
Not only are shows returning, but also Masterclasses with Peace Alumni. Both DJ Curtis ‘17 Abbe Fralix ‘15 worked with students in the fall. Curtis, a Portland-based actor, said that coming back to Peace and being able to work with students was a joy. He was inspired by their passion and grateful to watch them grow.
“Every student who stepped on that stage arrived with bravery and they were attentive and took risks,” said Curtis, “They all had gorgeous voices and each sparkled in their own unique way. We truly got to go on a journey in each piece.”
Senior bachelor of fine arts (BFA) Musical Theatre major Davyous Melvin is thrilled for theatre to be returning his senior year. He has been cast in multiple productions since his first year at WPU, and was raring to be back on stage.
“I’m glad theatre is back cause that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing my entire life,” said Melvin. “Theatre is my passion so its being back helped revive my life.”