Story Submitted by Kassidy Pierce
I am a graduate of the now infamous class of 2020. After 5 years at UCF, I’m finally graduating with two degrees: a B.S. in Entertainment Management and a B.A. in Theatre Studies. In March, we began our week-long Spring Break and by the end of that week classes had moved online for two weeks, and then the remainder of the semester. While it wasn’t the ending to my college campus experience I had anticipated, we found a way to make the best of it. Instead of an official graduation ceremony, my family organized our own. I “walked” around our pool in my cap and gown and to make it more fun, my family dressed up with me. My mom in her old grad school robe, my dad in a wizard robe and hat, my sister in her wet suit, and my brother in gigantic funky glasses. The real loss I was mourning was the five shows I was producing through UCF’s developmental theatre organization Project Spotlight. This was my third and last semester as Project Spotlight’s Artistic Director after being with the organization for 3 years. Officially, the school was closed and the shows were cancelled. Unofficially, we knew it couldn’t end there. My Leadership team and I immediately started brainstorming ways to celebrate the hard work of the casts, crews, and playwrights in this new time of social distancing and quarantine. Since every part of our shows are done by students, we decided to wait until the stress of the semester and finals was over. We reached out to the directors and casts to see if they were interested in remounting their shows for an online platform. Amazingly, almost every single person was able to “come back” to work on these shows. We organized a three night festival on our facebook page we called OAF 2.0: The Show Must Go Online. Our festival was viewed by almost 2,000 people across all three nights. Getting to work with everyone again, even under the changed and less than ideal circumstances was truly a gift. I was reminded, as I have been again and again throughout my life, of the power of storytelling. I am so grateful to have been a part of this organization and it was a moving end to my time with it. I am not walking out of college into the world I expected, the entertainment industry and theatre may feel the ramifications of this for years to come but I have found that through it all the art survives. The artists will always create. We find new platforms or build them. For now, I take an online acting class, I organize online readings of new plays, I work, I read, I dream, and I plan. The future may look dark but there is always a light, and so we keep moving forward.