UToledo School of Visual and Performing Arts

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UToledo Theatre and Film faculty Matt Foss translates his play to the online world, creating an interactive theatre learning experience

Dr. Matt Foss, and cast members from his play, “Faithful Friends” (left to right) Sarah West as Julia, Erik Pearson as Valentine, Emily Hawkins as Silvia, and Crabbe as Himself

Dr. Matt Foss, an assistant professor of theatre with The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film, wrote and directed a play that was originally intended to be performed live and taken on the road to elementary schools. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down performances, he had to successfully translate the production to the online performance space and lesson plan to help those learners now at home. The play premiered online today.

Foss originally created the play, “Faithful Friends: An Adaptation of the Two Gentlemen of Verona,” in late January and has been working with the company’s staff and leadership to build the interactive modules and workshops that accompany it over the past week. The work was created for PreK-6 grade students and to tour to elementary schools. It was created in partnership with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks (MSIP), a theatre he has worked with in the past, and its Montana Shakes! program, an elementary school outreach tour seeks to make Shakespeare and other classic works accessible to young people.

Scene from the online production of “Faithful Friends” by Dr. Matt Foss, assistant professor of theatre at The University of Toledo

“Working with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks was a foundational experience early in my career. They provide free and public art across the mountain west and their mission relates closely to what I have found and seek to do here in Toledo” says Foss.

Four of Montana Shakespeare in the Parks’ teaching artists, who are safely quarantined together, filmed the play and created lesson plans through the interactive learning platform FlipGrid. To convert the project to online, Foss enlisted the help of UToledo film student, Jarrett Cunningham.

“I’ve been teaching myself to edit as fast as I can the past week, but Jarrett was able to work remotely and close my learning and ability gap to help get the performance out to students and their families as quickly as possible”

The play and lessons will be available on Montana Shakespeare in the Parks’ YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBdb7l5OuPc. Teachers who want to use the Flipgrid materials at https://flipgrid.com/montanashakes will need to have an account on the app. More information can be found on the MSIP website: https://www.shakespeareintheparks.org/

Cast and Production Crew

  • Samual Cheeseman……………Proteus
  • Emily Hawkins……………………..Silvia
  • Erik Pearson………………………..Valentine
  • Sarah West…………………………..Julia
  • Crabbe……………………………….…Himself

Written and Directed By Matt Foss

Special Thanks to: Our Student Volunteers who submitted videos -Paul Heitt-Rennie and Montana PBS -Christus Collegium

PRODUCTION TEAM

  • Claudia Boddy…………….Costume Designer
  • Stacy Hostetter……………Properties Designer
  • Matthew Foss……………..Sound Designer
  • Gordon Carpenter…………Technical Director
  • Anna Neikirk……………….Production Manager
  • Jesse Mooney-Bullock……Puppet Designer
  • Jarrett Cunningham……….Video Editor
  • Katherine Norman…………Education Director
  • Sarah Stanek………………Stage Manager
  • Emily Cowles………………Stitcher

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