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GTA to conduct musical theater and live readings online

October 14, 2020

The show must go on. And Gainesville Theatre Alliance (GTA) has found a creative way for its fall 2020 season to continue amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

GTA is showcasing the talents of its students, faculty and guest professionals through free, digital-only productions this semester.

Gainesville Theatre Alliance is a one-of-a-kind, nationally recognized collaboration between the University of North Georgia and Brenau University. Utilizing hands-on, individualized training, GTA boasts a production program that rivals the largest theater schools in the country.

Jayme McGhan, artistic director of GTA and head of UNG's Department of Theatre, said the online productions allow a much larger audience to see students.

"If we were producing in-house productions right now, we'd likely be limited to 50 audience members or fewer," he said. "We can reach more people via an online format."

Thanks to the online forum, GTA students will display their acting and singing skills to live audiences in a virtual venue instead of the traditional venues on UNG's Gainesville Campus and Brenau's campus.

GTA's musical theater students will perform in the monthly Cabaret series via YouTube. Two different shows, "Stories of Color" and "You Will Be Found," will be shown digitally at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 and Nov. 20, respectively.

"Stories of Color" will feature music, dance and poetry that highlight and celebrate artists of color. "You Will Be Found" is a collection of ensemble pieces geared for audiences seeking a post-pandemic life.

In between the musical theater productions, GTA will host live staged readings of two new plays and a night of short plays as part of its New Play Festival segment. The premiere will be broadcast Oct. 22-24 on YouTube.

First on the schedule is "Blood," by playwright Nambi E. Kelley. The play explores the legacy of Malcolm X, fatherhood and Black male love while searching through time, reality and blood memory for the moral compass of these three generations.

On Oct. 23, GTA will produce "Monster Girls at Sunshine Doughnuts," by Atlanta playwright Dani Herd. The story centers on Frankenstein's monster, a vampire, and a werewolf working at a doughnut shop. The monsters get a little bit more than they bargained for when they agree to host an after-hours party.

The final day of the festival will be "GTA Shorts." The nine short plays are written and directed by GTA students, with guidance from GTA faculty and guest artists.

Rounding out the fall season will be William Shakespeare's "Henry V." GTA will use an all-digital theatrical playground to live stream "Henry V" on Nov. 13-16, through YouTube.

McGhan explained the virtual venues have created the opportunity for students to sharpen a number of tools in their toolkits, which is a benefit of the educational experience. For example, students have developed their writing skills.

"New play development is one of the most useful and exciting experiences a student performer, director or playwright can have as they enter the profession," McGhan said.

They also learned how to choreograph a play for a camera lens instead of on a stage.

"Learning how to frame themselves on the screen is becoming increasingly more important for the digital platforms that have exploded in the past decade," he said. "Actors can now make a good living as a YouTuber while pursuing stage or screen work if they are able to do it effectively." 

For more information, visit GTA's website, join the email list or follow GTA's on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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