Rose Hill Theater Club performs without a mask

The Mimes and Mummers, a Rose Hill theater club, presented a full production of “Footloose” on the weekend of October 9 with the cast exposed, sparking concerns among members of the Fordham Lincoln Center (FLC) theater program, who has been under a strict mask mandate for live shows.

Laura Auricchio, dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), said she spoke with Chris Rodgers, dean of Rose Hill students; and Keith Eldredge, Dean of Student Services. Eldredge and Rodgers were both unaware that The Mimes and Mummers performed without masks

“They assured me it would not happen again,” she said.

Students at the Fordham Theater in Lincoln Center must wear masks in all performances, unless they are standing 12 feet from each other on stage at all times and getting tested for COVID-19 every day. evenings. Photos from the Mimes ‘and Mummers’ performance of “Footloose” show actors touching and holding each other tightly on stage without masks.

“Am I to believe that there are different protocols for dealing with COVID-19 in performance at Rose Hill versus Lincoln Center?Orlando Whitcomb-Director, FCLC ’22

“Am I to believe that there are different protocols for dealing with COVID-19 in performance at Rose Hill versus Lincoln Center? Is it because LC has a theater program and Mimes and Mummers is a club? Orlando Whitcomb-Warden, FCLC ’22 and Fordham Theater Program student, said in an email sent to various school deans. “Why are our productions subject to different standards, especially in a large space like the Pope Auditorium with a lot of space to distance yourself on stage? “

Griffin LaMarche, Gabelli School of Business at Fordham College at Rose Hill ’22 and President of The Mimes and Mummers, said the board of directors of The Mimes and Mummers stressed that the unmasked performance was not a misstep on the part of their directors, club members, cast, crew or the Rose Hill administration.

“Full responsibility rests with the Board of Directors and the Board of Directors only and we are reviewing our protocol with the Rose Hill administration to ensure that we can best protect ourselves in keeping with the COVID-19 policy of Fordham, ”LaMarche said.

It makes sense to have a strict testing protocol when showing shows open to non-Fordham audiences. “Eva Gelman, FCLC ’24

La Marche said the group played Footloose assuming masks could be removed for performances if all performers were vaccinated and followed strict COVID-19 protocols during the rehearsal process.

“We believed we were following the policies and guidelines put in place by the University as much as possible, although we recognize that our performance does not reflect the precautions and security measures we have taken to protect our community,” said LaMarche .

He said the cast and crew participated in weekly PCR testing, mandatory mask wear during rehearsals and at all times for non-performers, and a self-imposed quarantine for all performers. cast and crew during the show’s technical week.

LaMarche said the decision to adhere to COVID-19 policies during rehearsals but perform without a mask was made in accordance with a precedent that club officials believed was set by other after-school clubs on campus.

“While we recognize that this was not reflected in our performance, we would like to point out that The Mimes and Mummers have fully embraced Fordham Rose Hill’s COVID-19 policy throughout the rehearsal process and have taken extra precautions to ensure the safety of our cast, team, the public and the University during our performances, ”said LaMarche. “We now realize that we were responsible for double checking with the University.”

Confusion in the FLC theater department

At FLC, a false rumor began to spread over the past two weeks that a student rehearsing for the drama department’s main show “The Drag” had a vaccine exemption, prompting new masking protocols on. scene.

On October 21, the drama faculty and staff emailed all program participants acknowledging the rumor and explaining the new safety measures they had planned after hearing the rumor. They said they decided to suspend the rehearsal to have a thoughtful conversation and “ensure the safety of those in the room and those they return home with.”

The email also said that the theater program immediately requested KN95 masks from the administration, as well as a COVID-19 Compliance Officer (CCO) to be present at all rehearsals. A CCO applies COVID-19 protocols during theater operations and works with members of the theater department to develop plans in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

“We were immediately provided with masks, but our requests for testing and a CCO were denied,” the email read. “The Administration also informed us that with a person exempt from vaccines in the company, the performances were to be closed to the public.”

Professors and staff were informed by administration that there was no vaccine exempt person rehearsing for “The Drag”.

Faculty and staff also said they are discussing the possibility of hiring a CCO at their own expense and making it known that performances will only be open to the Fordham community.

Hours before sending the email to the theater program, faculty and staff received a note from the administration verifying that there was no vaccine exempt person rehearsing for ” The Drag “.

“We are therefore moving forward by asking the administration to be able to proceed with the opening of the performances to the public and confirm if we are able to move forward without a Covid compliance officer in the room” Fordham’s drama faculty email and Staff said.

Many students in the FLC theater program again expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation.

Teachers and theater staff stressed that they would communicate frequently with administrators and work towards more transparency.

Many students in the FLC theater program again expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation.

“I think there are a number of things the Fordham Theater could do about COVID that would be much more effective than that, given that people in the department obviously interact outside of rehearsal on stage. The most important thing for me would be to implement a testing protocol for people who work in the theater department, ”said Eva Gelman, FCLC ’24. “It is just true that people in acting classes interact more closely than those outside the program, and it makes sense to have a strict testing protocol during the conduct of shows which are open to non-Fordham audiences. . “

Faculty and theater staff reminded students to remain diligent with security protocols to ensure the safety of “our community, guests, and their close contacts.”

The Mimes and Mummers will perform “Rumors” at the end of the fall semester and the Fordham Theater will perform “The Drag” from November 10-20.

Allie Stofer and Joe Kottke contributed reporting for this story.

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