Mary Eliza Hendricks: Art Student Spotlight

Senior+Theatre+major%2C+Mary+Eliza+Hendricks%2C+who+is+currently+creating+an+all+virtual+version+of+%22Alice+in+Wonderland%22+for+her+senior+project.

Sarah Laughland

Senior Theatre major, Mary Eliza Hendricks, who is currently creating an all virtual version of “Alice in Wonderland” for her senior project.

Mary Eliza Hendricks, Senior Theatre major at Emory & Henry College, is currently doing her last semester of college, as well as her senior project, entirely remotely. Despite having an untraditional senior year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hendricks is determined to make the most of it.

Hendricks is attending her dance classes, vocal lessons, and rehearsals via Zoom.

“It’s really been interesting. It has really pushed me and other people. I don’t think it’s been to the detriment, though. I think it’s actually forced us to explore more and be more creative,” she explained.

Having class remotely has meant that professors and students must adapt to doing theater in some unconventional ways. For example, Hendericks says that for a final in her directing class, she had to film and direct a scene starring her parents.

“It was so fun and they did so good! And it was a very interesting experience, working with amateuar actors, so lots of things like that have come out of it,” she said. “Lots of discovery. In the spring I was in dance repatorry, what we had to do was learn TikTok dances. It was very fun, actually!”
In addition to virtual coursework, Hendricks is currently developing her senior project: a remote production of “Alice in Wonderland”, but in an Avant-garde style titled, “Avant Alice.”

“It’s an avant-garde approach to an all virtual ‘Alice in Wonderland’ with the purpose of using the exploration of the avant-garde movement to make Zoom work for theater, or film, or whatever this story-telling is,” she said.

Hendricks has an interest in the avant-garde movement, so she is excited to work on this project, as she sees a lot of parallels between when the movement began and today.

“In response to a global tragedy as well as mass industrialization and changing in technologies, we saw the artists then playing with what art is, as well a how art is presented, how stories are presented, and how stories are told, which is exactly what I want to do with Alice in Wonderland,” she says. “I saw the parallels, because right now we’re going through a massive global tragedy, also a new era of technology, and I think we as a theater community need to embrace this new medium.”

While bringing this idea to life, Hendricks has also been cast to play Puck in E&H’s production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which she is looking forward to.

“I’ve wanted to play Puck since I was eight. I’ve been over the moon!” she said.

Overall, Hendricks is focused on remaining optimistic about the storytelling that she can still do instead of focusing on what she might be missing.

“I see this as an opportunity. We could just wait until theater opens back up, or we could take advantage and use this as an opportunity to create a new art form, to figure it out. Because why not? We might as well work towards that rather than lament,” she said.

“I’m a very adaptable person,” Hendricks said. “I also hate dwelling on disappointment, so in the spring I kind of figured what was going to happen and threw expectations out the window.”

Hendricks’s senior project “Avant Alice” as well as her performance in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be available to view online later this spring.