EPHRAIM — Shakespeare was from a rural town. This little known fact is eagerly pointed out by Andrew Nogasky, the Department Chair of the Snow College Theater Arts program. “Everyone deserves a good theatrical education if they want one” claims Nogasky, and uses the Shakespeare analogy to demonstrate to his students that one doesn’t need to be in Manhattan to learn theater arts.
Nogasky, who comes from a rural town in Pennsylvania, has worked professionally as an actor on the east coast, worked in major theaters, and toured with “The Acting Company,” which is the only professional theater principally dedicated to the development of young classical actors.
Founded in 1972 by John Houseman and Margot Harley from the first graduating class of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School, The Acting Company has launched the careers of some 400 actors, while bringing high-quality professional theater to hundreds of communities from coast to coast.
After two tours with The Acting Company Nogasky, who admits to “coming from a long line of teachers”, decided to follow his destiny and fulfill his love for teaching. Five years ago he was drawn to the opportunity to teach theater at Snow College, where he embraced the chance to help position Snow College and the Theater Arts program to “act and behave as a cultural hub for the community”.
Being close to nature, a wonderful quality of life and a chance to enhance theater arts in an area culturally underserved made the decision to move to the Sanpete Valley easy for him.
Nogasky admits that the Theater Arts program has been moving forward cautiously and with pragmatism this semester due to COVID-19. But moving forward it is.
Even though the Theater Arts Department’s final performance of last season, “Beauty and the Beast,” fell by the wayside because of the pandemic, there are four plays that are scheduled for this year. In addition to these plays, the Snow College Improv Team “Let Them Improv” will begin performances in a few weeks, with shows on October 2nd and 3rd.
United by their love of theater, and recognizing that students are social creatures, this summer Nogasky and his students had “Shakespeare Summer,” which met multiple times over the summer, with everyone joining the Zoom sessions to read Shakespeare.
The program for this semester continues with Shakespeare, with the opening performance “Mid Summers’ Night Dream,” which has been revisited within a setting dated in 1920 when people were still wearing masks at the end of the 1918 flu pandemic. These first performances will take place from October 7th thru October 10th.
The second performance will be in early December and will be a celebration of the holiday season with Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. At the end of February a Steve Martin comedy written in 1993, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” will lighten the mood. The final performance, “No Exit” a 1944 existentialist French play by Jean-Paul Sartre will take place mid-April.
The Theater Arts program will use the Actors Equity Association Covid-19 rules as a guideline, following as many as possible. Additionally, the State of Utah’s color-coding system for COVID-19 will be a determining factor for performances.
Under code green all programs will be presented as they have normally been in the past. Under the code yellow, which is where we are now, performances will be live, but seating will be arranged as to allow families to stay together but otherwise create social distance between spectators.
If Utah state goes to code orange the performances will be live streamed. Nobody wants to imagine what will be happening if Utah goes to code red, but if that happens the Theater Department will need to decide a course of action that keeps students, faculty and the public safe.
Things are “just different” admits Nogasky, who reminds the public that masks will be required by everyone who attends performances. Even the student actors will have masks to match their costumes.
Performances are open to the public, but due to COVID-19, theater tickets need to be purchased in advance and over the phone only. To ensure seat availability please call 435-283-7478.