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OU School of Drama presents 'Tiny Beautiful Things' amid COVID

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tiny beautiful things photo

"Tiny Beautiful Things" cast during performance.

The OU School of Drama is currently staging "Tiny Beautiful Things," a dramatic adaptation based on the advice column written by author Cheryl Strayed.

OU School of Drama professor and the play's director Judith Pender said "Tiny Beautiful Things" is an intimate show about The Rumpus advice column, "Dear Sugar." The story follows Strayed who is on her journey to help people with life advice.

Strayed wrote the column anonymously under the name Sugar from March 2010 until February 2014, Pender said, before she revealed herself on Valentine's Day.

“I think the biggest takeaway from the show is that you never know what people are facing,” Attie Marshall “Tiny Beautiful Things” stage manager said. “So the show definitely amplifies that because all of the people who write letters to the main character, Sugar, are dealing with really private issues that they probably didn't have the ability to tell people in personal lives.”

The OU School of Drama had initially scheduled another show to go up during this period, Pender said, but due to the cast's size, they had to look for a show that would accommodate masked and socially distanced actors in a theater with a capacity for 12 people.

“We have two separate casts with four people total, and each cast gets five performances of the show,” Pender said. “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with talented young professionals who are very dedicated and disciplined.”

Besides learning how to navigate the challenges of the pandemic, senior acting major Andie Fuentes, who plays Sugar in the show, said learning everything in a short period of time has been one the most challenging tasks  in her career.

The director of the show contented Fuentes when the person who originally played Sugar stepped down three weeks ago.

“Having to memorize this show in the time period that I did was extremely stressful. The subjects are very heavy and very personal,” Fuentes said. “I didn't feel very deserving of the role, and I struggled a lot with whether or not I was going to be able to get it together on time, but it worked out.”

Fuentes said she memorized her role four days before the show started, and even though the cast started rehearsing in January, she was able to get everything done in time for the debut of the show with their help.

Fuentes said there is one part in the show where a cast member is supposed to touch her on the shoulder before they exit, but since the cast is not allowed to touch, she has to over dramatize the way she feels the actor’s touch to show a connection with him.

“I think what is important when you are trying to tackle a show during COVID is you have to just go the extra mile,” Fuentes said. “When it comes to listening to your partner, there is no opportunity to zone out when you're trying to show that you are involved with this person, even if you can't touch them.” 

Remaining performances of “Tiny Beautiful Things” will run at 7:30 p.m March 10 through 13.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the Fine Arts Box Office at (405) 325-4101 for $8 and $6 for students and senior citizens.

Note: This story was corrected at 11:05 a.m. March 10 to reflect the correct spelling of Judith Pender. 

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