Theatre's first livestreamed play wins awards

A person wearing a mask sits on a bed with a puppet. Behind them are empty theatre seats and a faintly lit star.

Photo: capture of how to clean your room (and remember all your trauma) livestream performance, courtesy of Justene Merriman

"From the start it has been the theatre's business to entertain people ... it needs no other passport than fun."

Bertolt Brecht

When Western's campus closed and moved classes online in the Spring of 2020, the Department of Theatre and Dance faced a new challenge: how to continue performing for the community. Some productions were in the midst of planning. Some productions were canceled, or postponed until the return to normal.

Each quarter a new announcement came out stating campus would remain closed. One thing an artist does well is adapt, and that's what the Theatre team did. It came to fruition with how to clean your room (and remember all your trauma).

Western's first livestream theatre production required different tools and techniques. The audience would be invisible in every sense. Actors would have to wear masks in a play that wasn't written for that. The stage would be designed for three camera angles. Director Evan Mueller and students were determined to make it exceed audiences' expectations.

Long before in-person performances were suspended, the department had how to clean your room (and remember all your trauma planned for Fall quarter. The play, by Theatre alum j. chavez, won a Kennedy Center 2020 Undergraduate National Award.

The play centers on Spencer, a non-binary person dealing with their past, anxiety and depression. Spencer begins to clean their room and reflect on their relationships with the people around them. Who can and can't we control in our lives, does caring mean anything beyond words, and does infatuation go both ways?

A highly creative approach to a memory play; chavez's piece is an excellent experimental work that uses puppets, poetry, and a very messy allegory of a room to explore the relationship of a non-binary individual with the people they care deeply about, as well as coming to terms with themselves.

Jessi Pitts

how to clean your room is incredibly raw and truthful. chavez does a wonderful job of showing mental illness in a way I haven't seen in a play in a very long time. A fantastic piece of art.

Robert J. Pugh

Director Evan Mueller worked with j. chavez, students, and WWU faculty and staff to produce Western's first ever livestream play. The play involves actors acting alongside with puppets. They performed in the DUG Theatre with a fully-realized design, including costumes, scenery and lighting. 

Audiences tuned in remotely on their own devices to the YouTube livestream. Introduction, intermission and credit slides completed the experience. Audiences could also read the program and the script on the event's website, linked in the livestream description.

The production was a success, earning high marks, praises, and five awards from the KCACTF organization.

  • Suzannah Beller: Certificate of Merit for Costume Design

  • Delaney Pickard: Certificate of Merit for Lighting Design

  • Ally Kineman: Certificate of Merit for Puppetry Design

  • Boomer Lusink and Emily Pfriem: Irene Ryan Nominations

We are encouraged to continue livestream plays while all of Western's activities remain virtual.

Authored on

Nov 24, 2020 10:15am