The Theater Club has reinvented itself, producing two films in response to the pandemic.
They say that crises have the power to bring out the best in us, generating bonds between people that we never could have imagined. Nivedita Huple and Alessandro Rota can attest to this today. The emergence of the pandemic was a real blow to these two students, who lead the IE University Theater Club. They saw their creative dream hampered: their play “Angels in America” was stopped in its tracks when the health crisis erupted in 2020. The group was faced with a very difficult situation. In an environment as complicated as it was unfamiliar, some students dropped out of the project while others were on the fence. Fortunately, the determination of the student club, one of the most active in the university, made it possible for two new projects to emerge from that unfinished play: a documentary and a short film, both of which have just premiered this October with great success in the Aula Magna of the IE University campus in Segovia.
“It was a real challenge for all of us,” says María Bravo, Campus Life coordinator for Student Affairs, “and in the end, we decided to continue with the project in the middle of an academic year marked by continuous restrictions, social distancing and masks. So it was very difficult to do theater or any artistic activity, but we went for it.”
With the support of Campus Life—represented by María Bravo—and the renowned Spanish director and editor Pedro Collantes, the students of the Theater Club have managed to produce the documentary Unfinished and the short film Sonder.
Given the reality of the pandemic, it was impossible to rehearse. Everyone’s mind was elsewhere. “The real challenge was staying committed to a project.” We went from having a play to having a movie, which we had to cancel in January earlier this year because our goal was changing every month,” says Nivedita Huple, who stresses that “we didn’t want to throw away all the work we had done, so we made a documentary that reflected all the effort put in over the last few months.” Unfinished captures the students’ struggle to fulfill their dream. The documentary is, in short, a digital record of a great life experience.
“The Theater Club was a small team, no more than twelve students, but we were all dedicated to the goal of finishing what we started,” says Alessandro Rota, co-director of the club with Nivedita Huple. The main team was also composed of Mercedes Rodríguez, artistic director, and Blance Lorho, community manager. “The connection and the chemistry between us was something we had never experienced before,” admitted Alessandro Rota. And it was that special connection between the members of the Theater Club that gave rise to the second project, the short film Sonder, which emerged from the creative mind of Alessandro Rota himself. The short film narrates the chance meeting between two girls that will transform their accidental friendship into something much deeper.
In both productions, the help of director Pedro Collantes, author of El arte de volver, was key to the success of both audiovisual creations. “I have learned a lot from Pedro,” admits Alessandro. “He was really inspiring for everyone, and provided tips and tricks to really improve the whole production process.” On the other hand, IE University collaborated with the students by lending their facilities and making campus resources and services available to them. “Campus Life is in charge of optimizing student experience and supporting our creative endeavors, providing us with an environment to experiment and try different things, like filming a movie,” adds Alessandro.
The theater brought to life by IE University students is characterized by the fact that it brings together young people from all over the world, each of them with their own ideology, awareness and culture. The Theater Club is an example of the multiculturalism that exists in the Santa Cruz de la Real de Segovia campus, where students of a hundred different nationalities currently coexist. For three years, the Theater Club has performed an annual play that is very well received by the university community.
“Memories of the Rose and the Lion” (2018) was the first work that the students put on stage, which managed to involve more than thirty students of almost twenty different nationalities. It was a choral play that was written by nine authors and performed in English by up to 27 actors.
Conceived as a musical, the second work was “The Painter” (2019), which included a repertoire of songs created by IE University students. The work introduced the viewer to other artistic activities such as dance, poetry, painting and video. In 2019, the play was “The Turn of The Century,” written by Moroccan student Ghali Laraqui Houssaini, in which he reflected on change, social movements and today’s values. The IE Editorial, Knowledge—with the support of Campus Life—has already published two books that draw on the experience of the Theater Club over the last few years.
The documentary Unfinished and the short film Sonder now add to the Theater Club’s fruitful history. It would seem that no matter what crisis is thrown their way, for IE University students, the show must go on.