SJU’s Student-Led Theatre Group – Night of Scenes 2020
Have you heard of the club, “Followed by a Bear” at Saint Joseph’s University? Followed by a Bear (FBAB) is SJU’s one and only Student-Led theatre group. This means that all of the plays and scenes are student-written, student-directed, and student-performed. FBAB’s mission statement is “to get everyone involved in doing what they love, whether it be creative writing, acting, or anything in between, we serve as a creative outlet for people of all experience levels”…and oh, how creative they are! This semester’s Night of Scenes is a display of multiple scenes (basically, mini-plays) written, directed, and performed by students. Night of Scenes is working a little differently this year: there is no live audience, and the scenes were filmed outdoors with social distancing and mask guidelines in place. The cool thing about this semester? You can watch the scenes at any time because they were filmed! They will be posted on YouTube within the next couple of weeks, and you will be able to stream it as many times as you’d like.
We recently interviewed some of FBAB’s leadership, cast members, and directors to learn a little more about the club and changing roles in this challenging time.
First, we interviewed Diana Rach, a Junior and the director of the scene “You Wanna Pizza Me?” written by Emily Lehman and Deigo Perez. Diana is also the social media manager for FBAB. Not only will she tell you about her scene, but she will also mention her work as social media director. Be sure to follow @sjufollowedbyabear on Instagram!
Diana expresses her reasoning for joining FBAB as being the student-theatre aspect at first, explaining that she has been doing theatre all of her life, and she saw the club as a great way to get involved in college. Diana says, “what kept me [in the club] was the people, the experiences, the fun…”.
Diana describes her scene, “You Wanna Pizza Me?” as a scene about two sisters, Liv and Maddie, who order different “pizzas,” only to get them mixed up. Liv, who is hungry, ends up being hit on by the stripper that her sister orders. Meanwhile, Maddie, who is sexually frustrated, gets turned down by the delivery man whom Liv orders a pizza from. “It was a funny scene for sure!” Diana says, nodding her head.
Diana discusses how set and costume changes were impacted by COVID-19 and having to film the scenes. Her scene was supposed to be in a house, but with COVID, filming needed to be outdoors, so they had to adapt. Even through the challenges, Diana notes that, “the experience was still there, and it was still so much fun, and that’s really all that matters”
Next, we have Heavenly Perez, a Freshman and a Cast Member of the scene “The Plastics Become Nuns” written by Matthew McDevee and directed by Emily Lehman. Heavenly played Gretchen in the scene, which was a funny take on the popular movie “Mean Girls”, where Regina, Karen, and Gretchen go off to become nuns.
Heavenly explains that although this was her first time performing in a scene with the club, she could clearly tell that they were following social distancing guidelines and needed to wear masks when rehearsing and filming the scene.
Heavenly’s favorite part of Followed By a Bear was going to rehearsals and getting to meet everyone. She expresses that the club was fun, even with rehearsing at a distance.
We then interviewed Junior Kyra Goga, director of the scene “Run 3, 2, 4”, written by Ryan Flatley, who graduated this past spring. Kyra mentions that FBAB was supposed to perform the scene last spring, but this wasn’t possible due to the rapid changes of COVID-19. She expresses that she is glad she had the opportunity to direct this scene because it was “too good of a scene to pass up”
Kyra joined FBAB because she had a couple friends who had joined and they seemed to love it. Kyra tried it out, and fell in love as well; with the people and the fun and friendly environment FBAB produces.
Kyra explains that although this semester was her first time being a director, all of her cast members were great about working with her and coming up with ideas for the scene. She says, “I also felt like I didn’t have to do much, like they were doing such a great job!”
Some of the main challenges of filming the scenes (and how that affected sets/costumes) were that there was no live audience, and it was not performed on the Perch stage. Kyra admits that it was a trial and error process; there were issues with the camera, with technical elements, sound, etc and that presented a new challenge for everyone involved. Kyra says that it was especially hard for new club members to meet people because of COVID-19 guidelines and the inability to have many people together at once. She tells new members, “I promise this is not what it’s normally like…it’s usually a lot more fun, I swear”, and we can only hope for things to get back to normal soon!
Next up we have Louden Corby, a Junior and the Secretary, Technical Director, and an actor of Followed By A Bear. His job is to oversee and execute technical design, meanwhile collecting technical needs for the club. This semester, Louden was also an actor in a scene called “The White Claw Shortage of 2017”. He also is in charge of the FBAB email. He is here to talk about his job and how different and difficult filming has been this semester.
Louden tells the story of his initial involvement in Followed by a Bear, explaining how one night he was getting dinner and he ran into one of his friends who asked if he was going to the FBAB rehearsal. Although he was initially confused at what FBAB really was, Louden decided to give it a chance. Louden recounts; “It was a great atmosphere when I got there, the rehearsals were a really cool process, and it isn’t really like anything I’ve ever done before”. He then auditioned, got a part, and since then has been extremely involved in the club here at SJU.
Louden has had pretty much every role in FBAB, but this semester he chose to be an actor (along with tech director and secretary) and was casted in the scene, “The White Claw Shortage of 2017” which follows the White Claw Shortage of 2017 where they are at a baby shower and the host wants White Claws and they all try to find ways to get her these said drinks, even going through the Mafia to acquire some for the guests of the party.
As for filming, being the technical director, Louden knows better than anyone. “Challenges of filming were pretty much every aspect of filming: of where are we gonna film it, what are we gonna film it with, who’s gonna film it, how are we gonna schedule this?”. Louden says that when they got the camera, it was a matter of just “doing it” because FBAB is all about the process, it is a learning process and that is part of what makes it unique.
Finally, we have Emily Lehman, a Senior and the Co-Head Director for FBAB. She is also the treasurer for FBAB, co-writer of “You Wanna Pizza Me?” and the director of the scene “The Plastics Become Nuns” by Matthew McDevee. Emily is in charge of monitoring all finances, overseeing all directors and scenes, and fundraising management.
Emily explains that all throughout high school she was considered a “jock” and that she never would have thought to join this club until her sophomore year RA came to her and said that she should give it a try. Emily said she felt welcome and that it was a great experience and learning environment.
Some of the challenges with COVID included having to wear masks, wipe down props, act with social distancing guidelines, and re-think placement, or “blocking” of scenes. She laughs and says, “camera-wise, none of us are film majors, sooo…” explaining how for the first three scenes they filmed, the camera was zoomed in, and they had to completely rethink the scene– only to find later on that they had more space in the frame than they initially thought.
Even though the Followed By A Bear experience was far from the norm, club members were able to adapt and function even with the many challenges and safety precautions they needed to take with the coronavirus. Be sure to follow the FBAB Instagram for more information about when the videos of these scenes will be posted on YouTube for everyone to watch!