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GTA and film students to join forces on spring productions

March 24, 2021

Following a successful collaboration with film and digital media students in February, University of North Georgia (UNG) students in design and technology for theater will join forces with their fellow students again on two Gainesville Theatre Alliance (GTA) productions.

GTA is a one-of-a-kind, nationally recognized collaboration between UNG and Brenau University.

"We wanted to produce shows this spring to get our students back on the stage," said Keri McClain, marketing manager of GTA. "Because of the collaboration earlier this year with UNG's film students, they will film our spring shows. GTA will then release them virtually."

The two spring 2021 productions will be "Songs for a New World" and "The Tempest." Both productions will be broadcast on GTA's YouTube channel, though dates have not been finalized. Filming is scheduled to begin in April, followed by editing and post-production.

Dr. Jeff Marker, head of the Department of Communication, Media, and Journalism, said a small crew of film and digital media majors will film the performance. Then two students will complete post-production during the summer.

"We will likely use three cameras and do something akin to a classic television setup," he said. "The plan is to film it like a theatre production, but I hope we can find unique ways to capture the performance. This is part of the fun. We'll see what the GTA crew does, then decide the best ways to film it."

For GTA, "Songs for a New World" and "The Tempest" will feature a full cast of characters — 18 for "Songs for a New World" and 16 for "The Tempest" — along with an interchangeable set. Designers for lighting, sound and costumes will be assisted by two students — one for each production.

"We are supplying as many opportunities as possible for GTA students to get on stage, whether they are acting or tech and design," McClain said.

In "Songs for a New World," a group of four students will guide the audience through the production, which is filled with solo performances.

"It's considered a song cycle, with several songs stitched together by a single concept," McClain said. "The concept is the idea of stepping into something new, which is very timely at this moment."

Time is of the essence for GTA students, who saw last spring's productions canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fall shows were relegated to online productions instead of in-person shows. Now, they will face a new challenge: Perform on stage while being filmed.

Marker said his students will learn how to film a theatrical production, which is very different from filming a movie.

"It's a real-time performance, so you can't yell 'cut' and reset the shot," he said, explaining it will require advance planning. "For GTA and for us, the process is more important than the final product. It should be an excellent developmental opportunity. That said, our goal is to produce something that does justice to the quality of GTA's work and makes the entire university proud."

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