TUPS’ First Years Putting on Theatre prepares for a virtual shows

One of the major traditions of the Trinity University Players (TUPS) is their annual show First Years Putting on Theatre (FYPOT). Production for this event starts at the end of the spring semester when upperclassmen writers and directors are paired up to create original short shows. The main goal of FYPOT is to welcome first-year students into the theatre department and to help them meet their peers.

“First and foremost, the goal of FYPOT is to create a great show, but the goal, even over that, is for the first-years to have fun and to make friends in the theatre department. It’s our way of welcoming them,” said Megan McGuire, a sophomore who is the Recruitment and Retention Officer of TUPS.

This year’s FYPOT features five unique shows that range from parodies of popular musicals to a piece on the challenges of remote learning. While each piece is created independently, which has led its shows to have a wide range of tones, all the shows this year are comedic and light-hearted.

“No matter what’s happening in our lives right now, everybody needs a good laugh,” said Dr. Nathan Stith, theatre professor and faculty sponsor of TUPS. “It’s been a rough time for everybody, so a good opportunity to laugh is always good.”

Like everything, though, the pandemic drastically altered the way FYPOT was produced and put on. Yet despite the challenges, they never considered canceling the show.

“We had a lot of early conversations throughout the summer at our officer planning meetings about how we were going to do FYPOT, not whether or not we were going to do FYPOT,” said Anthony Tresca, a junior and the president of TUPS. “We knew that FYPOT is probably the most important thing that TUPS as an organization does the entire year.”

Since the beginning of summer, TUPS has gone through many different plans for what FYPOT was going to look like this year. They had originally planned to put on a socially distanced performance in front an audience, but as the pandemic worsened they decided it would be best to perform virtually.

“We wanted to get as close to doing and emulating a live performance as possible, so we decided that we would use Zoom, although Zoom is not perfect,” said Tresca.

Although many changes have had to be made, there is a silver lining in the form of the new possibilities that Zoom introduces as an artistic medium. Basic aspects of theatre, such as dialogue, general interaction between characters, and staging, must be completely reimagined and adapted in to fit a remote performance. Additionally, in an in-person performance, there is a team of people in charge of elements like lighting, sound, and prop design that help to bring the show together, but the remote theatre has fundamentally changed the way designers perform their roles. Even though these may seem like only more challenges to overcome, McGuire is looking forward to the innovation and creativity that will hopefully come from using Zoom as a new performance medium.

“It’s interesting to see not only how the shows have turned out but how everyone is using Zoom to their advantage,” said McGuire. “There’s going to be different shows that are just making fun of [Zoom]…If there’s an inconsistency with props, since everyone has to make their own, people will react to how it’s changed and play it for laughs.”

Overall, TUPS hopes that FYPOT helps to give students a way to connect with each other and make friends as well as create a sense of normalcy. According to Tresca, many students use theatre as both a stress reliever and safe space where they are free to express themselves without judgement. According to him, he stress students are already feeling with the pandemic and college in general would only be exacerbated if TUPS wasn’t there to provide them with support and community.

“Coming in as a first-semester college student is already scary enough, already lonely enough, and then you added in a pandemic that is isolating and soul-crushing,” said Tresca. “We have to be there, and we want to be there for the first-years.”

Apart from FYPOT, TUPS has big plans for the remainder of the semester. As a result of the isolating nature of remote learning, the organization is hoping to hold a variety of virtual social events and club hang-outs, whether it be through watching a movie, hosting a game night, or reading Shakespeare. TUPS is also looking to put on more virtual theatre performances and encourages people to submit ideas of their own.

FYPOT will be performed via Zoom on Sept. 19 at 8:00 pm. More information about TUPS and FYPOT can be found on their Instagram page @tups_official.