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Friday, May 7, 2021

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Showings of “Chess In Concert” are at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 5 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. Showings of “Chess In Concert” are at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 5 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6.
 


No Sacrifices Required for This “Chess” Opening

In collaboration with the School of Music and Dance, SDSU's School of Theatre, Television and Film is digitally streaming “Chess In Concert” with more than 100 students participating.
By Aleah Jarin
 

“In the end I think we came out with something we can be proud of that’s entertaining, beautiful, and innovative.”

Featuring participation from more than 100 students, San Diego State University’s School of Theatre, Television and Film will be digital streaming a musical production of “Chess In Concert” Dec. 3-6, 2020.

In the rock musical, the ancient game of chess becomes a metaphor for romantic rivalries, competitive gamesmanship, super-power politics, and international intrigue. “Chess In Concert” is written by Tim Rice, Benny Andersson, and Björn Ulvaeus and directed by Stephen Brotebeck.

Due to the pandemic, new and innovative strategies were implemented to allow safe collaboration while still following university and county health guidelines related to COVID-19.

The production is filmed live with eight actors on the Don Powell Theatre stage while ensemble members from the SDSU Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir will individually film their material through audio and video recordings. This footage will be combined to create a monumental production which will be recorded and streamed by television and film students.

The principal cast features MFA Musical Theatre graduate students whose collective work spans Broadway, international, regional, and local productions. 

“Producing a show of this scale during a pandemic has been a challenge, but also wonderfully exciting,” Brotebeck said. “The collaborative spirit is high, and everyone involved is dedicated to creating the best piece of musical theatre that we can under these circumstances. It may look a little different, but we are eager to share the talents of our SDSU students with an even larger audience than normal, given that everyone can enjoy this production from the comfort and safety of their homes.”

Victoria Fowler, who starred as Elphaba in the national tour of “Wicked”, plays Florence Vassy in the production. She said rehearsing for the production was “unconventional” but she and the other actors found a way to get creative.

“With the limited ability to be in the same room at the same time, we came up with creative ways of learning the music and working through acting beats on Zoom, both rehearsing live and recording things, and sending them to each other,” Fowler said. “It was then up to each actor individually to learn and rehearse their role so all the puzzle pieces fit once we could finally physically get together. In the end I think we came out with something we can be proud of that’s entertaining, beautiful, and innovative.”

Showings of “Chess In Concert” are at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 5 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. For tickets, visit the SDSU School of Theatre, Television, and Film website. All tickets are $5.

As part of the Arts Alive SDSU Discovery Series, “Chess In Concert” will also feature a free interdisciplinary panel discussion at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3. The conversation will explore challenges that emerge when the individual values of citizens conflict with the dominant politics of their country, and the relationship between Cold War defections and current issues of immigration. Individuals may register to attend this free panel.