AMERICAN THEATRE

The ZOOM Where It Happens

AT GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY IN FAIRFAX, Va., design student Alex Wiemeyer spent her mid-March spring break working in the costume shop. Because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, precautions were taken to limit the amount of people in the costume shop at any given time, and there was a rule to wipe down the sewing machines with alcohol swabs. The costume shop, along with the rest of the campus, had shuttered for the semester, and classes would resume online after spring break for the remainder of the semester.

Wiemeyer spent some of that break trying to get ahead on building costumes for the music department’s opera, which has been pushed to the fall. “It’s very weird going on spring break, saying, ‘See you in a week,’ and then saying, ‘Oh, wait—no, I won’t see you anymore,’” said Wiemeyer, who is a graduating senior. “A lot of us weren’t prepared for that.”

Wiemeyer was especially sad to say goodbye to her capstone project: designing costumes for a staging of Jaclyn Backhaus’s Men on Boats, set to open in late March. “We smashed women’s styles of the time period and men’s fashion of the time period, so a couple of the women were in pants and a corset,” she recalled with excitement. “And the boats were structured to look like crinolines of the time.”

All across the country, theatre educators and students have been mourning the loss of shows that won’t make it to the stage this semester because of COVID-19. Instead of vacationing, they used spring break to brainstorm ways that

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