A performance for hope and healing

By Leanne Vastbinder, Opinions and Online Editor

The Theatre Department is still finding ways to perform despite challenges from COVID-19. While the normal shows have been put on hold, members of the Theatre Department are crafting an original, collaborative project to showcase and unpack current social and global issues for the community.

Named “One Community, Many Voices,” the show is being written by a group of theatre students and faculty, using a technique known as “devised theatre.” Director Mark Mannette is facilitating the collaborative effort and now holding auditions for anyone who wants to be a part of the project.

Mannette said the purpose of the project is to create a space where people can discuss the dramatic, life-altering events that are happening in the world.

“It is a way for us to process the kinds of things that are going on in 2020, so it is a contemporary, reactionary piece,” he said. “The theme is for us to have hope and healing.”

Mannette said the project is special because all students at Newman are encouraged to participate, whether by sharing ideas or auditioning for an acting role.

“The door is open, and it would be a great opportunity for them, especially if they feel like they have something to say. Come share a piece of yourself. It’s an opportunity to synthesize it into a piece where we can then share it with an audience, and they can grow and learn too,” Mannette said.

Junior Matthew Clark is one of the student creative collaborators for the project.

Clark said the project should ultimately be a celebration of art and humanity.

“Ideally we should create a piece that inspires and that makes people more hopeful for the future and able to cope with the world around them. It should be able to open a platform for discussion in a very safe atmosphere,” Clark said.

Even though COVID-19 guidelines create various obstacles for theatre production, Mannette said, the show is being written to be flexible with the current situation.

“It can be staged with social distancing and we’re addressing things related to the pandemic, so there’s sketches on wearing masks and other things like that,” Mannette said.

The play, Mannette said, is scheduled to debut in October, and because of COVID-19 guidelines, the venue is still undecided.

“It could be outdoors. Maybe we move it to Dugan. We are going to find ways to do it. It may be that we do a film version of it as well, but it’s going to happen,” Mannette said.

Students who want to participate in the project should email Mark Mannette at

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo,