“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Marks DVC’s First Return to Live Theater Since 2020

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Marks DVC’s First Return to Live Theater Since 2020

Joseph Rustia, Staff

The soon-to-be-ending production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream marks a special moment for Diablo Valley College’s drama department, which greets campus audiences with its first maskless performance since the pandemic started.

The famous William Shakespeare comedy, which opened on Oct. 22 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 7, was directed and adapted by Nicole Hess Diestler, who teaches acting and directing at DVC.

During the pandemic, the school’s drama department – like so many arts departments, from dance to painting to music – required students and staff to transition from in-person rehearsals and performance to a strictly online setting. For more than a year, productions were either performed at outdoor venues or streamed to an online audience.

“For [Dreamer] Project: An Undocuplay, while we were doing filming and rehearsals, we had to be masked,” said Anthony Carrasco, a DVC student who has taken part in previous school productions including [Dreamer] Project and The Book of Will.

“Everyone had to maintain a distance whenever possible,” he said, and a lot came down to making sure there were “as few people in the building as possible.”

Despite improved conditions for performance, the production’s opening weekend experienced some bumps in the road.

“I think it will be harder to bring in bigger audiences,” said Mac Day, a DVC student who is taking part in the production. Due to county requirements enforced by Contra Costa Health Services, indoor businesses now require all patrons – or in this case, audience members – to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, causing some people to be refused entry.

“We did have a couple cases for our shows where audience members who wanted to come [weren’t vaccinated],” and due to this, they were not allowed to attend the performance, said Terrance Kissel, another DVC student actor in the production.

Nonetheless, according to Kissel and his colleagues, the number of audience members who showed up on the opening weekend was “fairly large.”

Widespread vaccinations and a recent vaccine mandate, announced for the Spring 2022 term, helped make preparation for A Midsummer Night’s Dream a lot easier.

Carrasco said, “If you’re vaccinated – and everyone [in the crew] is vaccinated – we can have more people in a confined space.”