Fresno City College Theater Program Tests New Waters with Virtual Production


Image provided by Karina Balfour

Story By: Aroara Trimm, Entertainment Editor

Fresno City College’s theater program is putting on a virtual production of “The Line” by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen during the spring 2021 semester. 

The production will run from March  5-7 and 11-13, 2021. 

“The Line” debuted July 2020 by Public Theater on their YouTube channel.

 It is a play written from the real life interviews of New York doctors and nurses at the start of the pandemic. 

FCC’s virtual production is pre-recorded and created by stitching together each actor’s individual recordings.

However, filming their individual clips was a frustrating experience, according to some of the actors. 

“Recording stuff, it’s like, ‘Oh, I wish I’d done that different’ or ‘I wish I could do that again.’ But you can only do it so many times before you start getting like, diminishing returns on how much you can improve it,” said William MacDonald, a theater major at FCC who is playing Ed, a paramedic in the production. 

But not all of the cast was in agreement with MacDonald. 

Adam Khouzam, a theater major at FCC and playing David, an ICU nurse, said he enjoyed doing the piece virtually as it allowed more one-on-one time with the director. Something that isn’t as common in in-person productions. 

When it came to doing a virtual production, director and adjunct theater instructor at FCC, Karina Balfour said, “There’s absolutely no substitute for being in the theater with live people breathing the same air experiencing emotions and a story together. That’s what makes theatre so special.” 

Auditions were done through email, with Balfour asking for people wanting to audition to send a 1-2 minute recording of them performing a monologue.  

Once the cast was selected, they did a total of three weeks of rehearsals. Many of which included many individual sessions with Balfour and meeting Friday nights via Zoom to rehearse as a group. 

Balfour says she chose this piece not only because it was in a virtual format but because it was relevant to current times and the actors agree. 

“We are using our skills and talents and our opportunities as actors to communicate these characters’ stories that they wouldn’t have had a chance to communicate otherwise,“ said Katherine Maitre, a theater major at FCC who is playing Jennifer, a first year medical resident. 

FCC’s cast and crew is hoping the audience will take the message and story they are retelling to heart. 

“I really do hope that this is an eye opener for a lot of people who might think it’s a hoax or actually do believe it’s a hoax. Because this is real people. This is their lives,” said Alexandra Yolen-Chavez, a theater major at FCC and stage manager for the production. 

FCC’s trailer for the play can be seen here. 

The performance on March 7, 2021 will be at 2:00 p.m. and the rest of the performances will be at 7:30 p.m. 

The show will run for approximately 70 minutes.

Tickets are donation based and can be reserved here.