September 30, 2020

SIU’s 2020 ‘New Faces’ performances will have a new twist

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Theater on Saturday will introduce audiences to this year’s new theater majors through a bit of a twist – virtual performances.

“New Faces 2020” is an evening of short plays and the opportunity to meet students who are new to the university’s theater department. The online performances, written by student playwrights and directed by student directors, will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 3. The students will be performing from various locations via Zoom with the presentations streamed over YouTube at

Plays explore ‘Conspiracy Theories’

Lavinia Roberts, a master’s student in playwriting, said this year’s theme, “Conspiracy Theories,” is comprised of short plays and musical numbers. There are 29 theater students involved: 13 new theater students who will perform; eight “old faces” or upperclassmen directing the plays, and eight graduate and doctoral-level students who are playwrights.

The entire process took two weeks.

“The playwrights, directors, and actors discussed the theme. The playwrights wrote the plays considering the strengths of the actors and the theme as discussed by the group,” Roberts said.

Typically, the annual event is in the C.H. Moe Theatre on campus. Part of the challenge, according to Roberts, was for writers to utilize and write for a different medium with Zoom. Creative teams are embracing Zoom to create engaging and creative content, she said.

“Doing ‘New Faces’ online gives actors the opportunity to act for the screen which is a different medium and a different skill set than acting on stage,” she said. “Directors will be considering props, the actors’ background, and ‘costuming’ as part of the creative process.”

Here is a list, by hometowns, of the SIU Carbondale students who are 2020 “New Faces.” 


  • Arlington Heights: Carolyn Ridler.
  • Beecher: Lucas Reilly.
  • Belleville: Luke Schauster, publicity, graphic design and technical.
  • Champaign: Amariya Thompson.
  • Chicago: Dwayne Freeman, Jr.
  • Downers Grove: Caroline Ostrum.
  • Du Quoin: Ara Rice.
  • Harrisburg: Carter Reed
  • Riverside: Nicholas Zia.
  • South Holland: Terrisha Adams.


  • Orlando: Gillian Corpuz.


  • Charles: Sabrina Holtgrewe. 


  • Memphis: Jessica Lively.


  • DeForest: Lyndsey Bergman. 

Roberts said the program will be “impactful” and a chance for the audience to see some of the creative talent on campus.

“This really is an opportunity to introduce these new performers to the SIU and Carbondale community,” she said.