Update: This article has been updated since it was first published with information on Rude Mechanicals' 2020-21 season.
During quarantine, current and former American University students are getting creative to occupy themselves, using their free time to make artwork, music, theater productions and clothing.
AU Quills and Capes has been doing online theater productions of student-written shows. It had a Zoom performance on Aug. 22 called, “God, I Don’t Believe in You,” a one-act play about Hypatia, whose mother struggles to accept that she is an atheist. It was directed by Heather Adams, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Even though Zoom and YouTube are its new platform, Quills and Capes has executed projects beyond its immediate imagination.
“Quills and Capes has been able to do three online performances with students from all over the country that we never would have imagined doing before,” said Olivia Luzquinos, the group’s artistic director. “Although theater online is not the same as live in person performance, we’ve been able to bring people together from all over the country to unite over a piece of art.”
Luzquinos wrote “Old Friends,” a one-act play showcased by Quills and Capes. Sarah Wells, a senior, directed it. The play includes an accompanying playlist created by the group, featuring songs like Taylor Swift’s “Eyes Open,” Billie Eilish’s “Six Feet Under” and Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend.”
AU Quills and Capes said that it has been engaging more with its audience after each performance. It has also attempted to create an experience as close to real theatre as possible.
“We’ve added videos of curtains opening, pre-show music and virtual playbills to our tool box,” Luzquinos said.
AU Quills and Capes released its theme for the fall semester: Out of the Darkness. It has also been active in raising money for charity.
“So much is happening in the world, and starting this summer, we’ve picked a different charity to raise money for with each of our shows,” Luzquinos said. “We’ve been able to donate to the Black Trans Femmes in the Arts Collective, an organization that helps trans women and feminine non-binary individuals in the arts, and 350.org, a global effort to combat climate change.”
The AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center has a profile on the AU website of an alumna, Kendall Clayton, who has made portraits during quarantine. Clayton created portraits of herself and other women close in her life. The focus of Clayton’s artwork is to empower people from groups perceived as invisible.
AU Rude Mechanicals, a Shakespeare-based student theater group, recently released information on productions for the 2020-21 season. They will host four shows, including a Macbeth production in the spring.
Normally, both AU Rude Mechanicals and AU Quills and Capes would be having productions at Katzen, but going virtual has become the new normal, due to the pandemic.
Mariahclare Clark, an AU junior in CAS, founded a clothing company called &bonez during quarantine. She makes eco-friendly t-shirts.
“I try to make my company as eco-friendly as possible, and I do this by buying already used shirts, or shirts made out of recycled materials,” Clark said. “I want to convey solidarity with people, and, at the core, we are all just people and should have compassion for each other.”
Clark faced plenty of challenges when she first started &bonez.
“It was a lot of trial and error, figuring out how to make the shirts, and make them eco-friendly,” Clark said. “Another issue was outreach in the beginning. I was not sure how to connect with people, but once I got momentum, it was a little easier. Sometimes, there are some dry spells when no one orders but posting often encourages people to order.”