In its 22-year history, this is the first time that Arts Fest has ever been held online. Starting Thursday morning and ending Saturday, the Boston College Arts Council orchestrated the event by posting videos and links on its website and social media pages. In addition to highlighting previous shows from on-campus groups, this year’s Arts Fest featured performances specially made for the event, many of which were created after students had returned home.
Just after noon on Thursday, the Common Tones kicked off the a cappella showcase series of this year’s virtual Arts Fest with a video created by combining video recordings of individual members. The group performed an upbeat, energetic rendition of Maggie Rogers’ “Burning,” which featured a stellar solo from Maddy McCullough, MCAS ’20.
BC Arts Council’s “To Hang a Pencil” is a concise yet compelling visualization that brings to life “Unfinished Poem,” written by B. Burke, BC ’15, LGSOE ’17, and L. Doherty. The animation by Becca Estrella reinforces the poem’s theme of coping with mental illness and encourages listeners to assess their own emotional well-being.
“‘To Hang a Pencil’ hopes to move audiences toward a deeper sense of empathy for those who struggle with mental health challenges and provide the platform for vulnerable and revelatory conversations on the topic,” wrote the BC Arts Council in a Facebook post.
The BC theatre department was forced to cancel its City of Angels production, yet it did a brilliant job of bringing some of the Robsham experience to viewers’ very own quarantine couches. Starting off a series of videos on its Facebook page, David Connolly, director and choreographer, and David McGrory, music director, shared messages of encouragement to members of the BC community, reminding them to stay positive despite the extraordinary times. Later on, Tiffany Brooks, MCAS ’21, Ryan Kitz, MCAS ’23, and Kyle Ronkin, MCAS ’21, all performed solo numbers from the musical while other members of the cast offered an ensemble performance.
Several members of the Writers’ Circle club gave readings of their work. Holly-Anne Grell, MCAS ’21, read a short story titled “Untethered,” set in a fantastical town of interconnected boats that is threatened by “invisible pirates,” a metaphor for the novel coronavirus wreaking havoc in the real world. Grell’s impassioned performance underscored the dire consequences the pandemic will have for society. Lyana White, MCAS ’20, read her poem “To Make Matters Worse,” a narrative framed by precise rhymes that examines the danger of being a bystander.
Senior English majors in the creative writing concentration also displayed their work. A 29-minute video compiled readings from six students. “Paper Boats,” by Margherita Bassi, MCAS ’20, was an evocative sketch of India told from the perspective of an outsider. Claire Madden, MCAS ’20, read an essay from her creative non-fiction thesis, Measurements. The piece examined Madden and her family members’ harsh attitudes toward their bodies.
Luke Jorgenson’s Theatre for Youth class didn’t plan to perform at Arts Fest. But when the class created videos narrating fairy tales for nine local elementary schools to replace their scheduled production of Alice in Wonderland, their videos became an inventive part of Arts Fest’s virtual line-up. Each student created a personal rendition of classic fairy tales and fables such as “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” “The Tortoise and the Hare,” and “Cinderella.” To enhance their story-telling, some students incorporated stuffed animals as props and added sound effects and filters to their productions.
The BC Dramatics Society was scheduled to present a reading of the play Escaped Alone by Caryl Churchill, but with the on-campus school year cut short, the group didn’t have time to rehearse their reading together. For this year’s Arts Fest, 14 members of the society’s board recited their favorite lines from plays and musicals. In a pre-recorded video, the members quoted lines from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Into the Woods, Girls Like That, and more.
Although the BC Musical Theatre Wing planned to perform selections from the musical Waitress in a concert, the group presented two pre-recorded performances at Arts Fest instead. Natalie Marsan, MCAS ’21, and Kyle Ronkin, MCAS ’21, sang “Never Ever Getting Rid of Me” from Waitress. Emma Roney, MCAS ’22, and Bradley Wallace, MCAS ’22, selected to sing “Suddenly Seymour” from the musical Little Shop of Horrors.
Many of the performances posted by the Arts Council were relatively simple in their presentation. They were recorded from inside students’ own homes instead of held live under a tent on the O’Neill Plaza. There was no visible audience to speak of. Yet the art itself still shone, even through a screen.
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Senior Staff