Concord University brings history to life on zoom

ATHENS, WV (WOAY)Join historical figures as they share their life stories, virtually. Over the next month, Concord University Theatre will be presenting student-written living history performances. Directed by Karen Vuranch, the series of performances will be hosted on the virtual meeting platform, Zoom, and will be held Oct. 28, Nov. 11, and Nov. 18. All performances will be presented at 7 p.m., and admission is free for the Concord campus community and general public. The Zoom meeting ID is 923 2892 2540.

Living history performances will be presented in a series of three shows. The first, Tales of the Macabre, will be held on Oct. 28, featuring authors Edgar Allen Poe and Mary Shelley as well as serial killer “Jolly Jane” Toppan. The second show, American Heroes, will be held on Nov. 11, featuring Mr. Fred Rogers and WWII pilot, Lt. Charles Brown. The third show in the series, Legends of Song, will be on Nov.18, featuring Tammy Wynette and Doris Day. After the performances, audience members will get a chance to ask the character and the actor questions.

Concord University students had the opportunity to take a class titled “Living History Performance”, which is a style of theatre, also known as “Chautauqua-style theatre” where the actor researches an historical individual, and embodies them on stage.  Following a monologue, the scholar answers questions from the audience in character. In the final part of the presentation, the scholar breaks character and answers questions that the character could not discuss, such as when they died.

Professor, Karen Vuranch has made a career out of this style of performance for the past 30 years. “Living History works well in a university setting,” stated Vuranch. “It is a unique combination of academic research and performance.”

Vuranch went on to say that presenting a character in this format presents certain challenges, but that her students successfully completed the research and rehearsals.

All of the living history performances are directed by Concord University’s Theatre Instructor, Karen Vuranch. Tales of the Macabre will host Edgar Allen Poe, played by Zack Brittingham, ‘Jolly Jane’ Toppan, played by Kendra Kestner, and Mary Shelley, played by Emily Bailey. American Heroes will host Fred Rogers, played by Trevor Darago, and Charles Brown, played by Ross Cline. Lastly, Legends of Song, will host Tammy Wynette, played by Hannah Puckett, and Doris Day, played by Karissa Bowden.

The Zoom software is free and easy to download.  Just go to Zoom.us and click on Join a Meeting and enter the meeting ID, 923-2892- 2540. If you would prefer to have a link emailed to you or for more information, call 304-384-5259 or email Karen Vuranch at kvurach@concord.edu.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com