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Drake Theatre returns to in-person audiences

Photo by Courtney Jackson | Staff Photographer

Recently, the Drake University theatre program announced that their productions featuring students would once again be held as in-person events after a period of shows being online during the height of COVID-19.

This season’s lineup of shows is set to be the first totally in-person theatre experience since the 2018-2019 season.

Students involved in upcoming productions have expressed excitement about theatre returning to a sense of normalcy. They claim that a live audience helps enhance their performance which in turn gives the audience better satisfaction.

“An in-person audience is more important to us actors because we can use the audience’s energy as a way to heighten our performance,” said theatre student Abby Rogers. 

Theatre faculty and professors have noticed student’s eagerness to get back in front of a live crowd and have shared their ideas of getting back to a sense of normalcy.

“The students are very ready to get back to live performances,” said Erin Horst, director of the BFA musical theatre program. “We all learned a lot last year when we had to get creative with our performance platforms, but it will be nice to return to some small sense of normalcy.”

Faculty members stated that in-person performances not only enhance the performances of the students involved, but they also enhance audience enjoyment as well.

“One of the elements that define theatre is its ephemeral nature. It is meant to be enjoyed live and in-person,” said Michael Rothmayer, associate professor of theatre. 

While students and faculty have reacted positively to these changes, the lingering issue of COVID-19 is still in the minds of both students and faculty while planning the lineup for this year.

“Per University guidelines, we are requiring masks at our live performances this year for both actors and audience members,” Horst said. “We are hoping this will be the only extra safety measure required, but our situation may change due to the variants going around.”

Despite the steps taken to ensure the audience’s safety with COVID-19, the eagerness of the students has not diminished.

“The theatre department as a whole has done such an amazing job with keeping everyone safe, and I know we will be able to handle performing live,” Rogers said. 

Theatre students hope that the offered in-person performances will spread the same excitement to the student body.

“I genuinely hope that people are just as excited as our cast is to be live in person again,” said Jude Thurman, Drake student and actress in Drake’s upcoming production of “9 to 5.” “Theatre has been hard to do without live audience members, so it would be amazing to see people come and watch us.”

Drake’s first show of the 2021-2022 season, “Medea,” took place this past weekend at Coleman Studio Theater.


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