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KU Theatre & Dance 2020-21 Season Reinvented

Monday, September 28, 2020

Featuring a partnership with Island Shakespeare Festival 

KU's Department of Theatre & Dance lifts up students' voices, and issues of importance to them, through a variety of original works that speak to this moment in time. Adhering to KU's strict policies in this unusual year, all performances of the University Theatre and University Dance Company will be presented online through 2020.

"The pandemic doesn't change the basic truth about us artists: we want to perform, we need to perform, and we will perform however we can," said Dr. Henry Bial, Professor and Chair of the Department. "We're leaning into the digital this year to provide students with opportunities to share their work. I'm so proud of all of them. They are meeting this moment with open minds and open hearts." 

UDC Fall Concert Series, Oct. 9-10, Oct. 30-31, and Dec. 3. 
The University Dance Company will present a series of site-specific and screen dances. Faculty choreographers and their all-student casts will present the UDC Fall Concert Series (details on the grid below). The first concert in the series will bring back two works originally slated for UDC's repertory last spring. Associate Professor Emeritus Jerel Hilding will return to set his ballet, Gitanas, a Spanish-influenced work inspired by his own experiences dancing with the Joffrey Ballet. Fans and colleagues of Hilding will enjoy his choreography through live streaming access from the Crafton-Preyer Theatre stage. Associate Professor James Moreno will present, Traqueros, a modern contemporary work about the Mexican immigrants who built the railroad in Kansas, filmed at Lawrence's Amtrak station and shown in screen dance format

Digital Theatre Festival, Oct. 23-25 and Oct. 27-29. 
Seven student-led teams are exploring the possibilities of online performance with newly developed short pieces. Many students are devising theatre week by week, organically grown from the ground up under faculty mentorship. Among the topics: gender fashion choices, a commentary on consumption/homage to our cancelled production of Urinetown, and a devised work combining movement and singing for social justice. Six of the students' Festival works will debut Oct. 23 and will be available for viewing until 10:30pm Oct. 25. Patrons are also invited back to ask questions of the students about the process during a Festival Talk Back Oct. 26 at 7:30pm via Zoom. A link to view the Festival and to the Talk Back can be found via the Festial link below.

The Festival's encore presentation, Oct. 27-29, is a commentary on consumerism and homage to Urinetown, the Musical, which was part of our cancelled Spring '20 season. PhD Student Timmia Hearn Feldman directed a 10-minute, pre-recorded musical work featuring many of the original cast members and KU Theatre's accompanist and musical director Ryan McCall. Urinetown, the (home-video) Musical will be broadcast via ShowTix4U.com. All showtimes for Urinetown, the (home video) Musical are at 7:30pm. Patrons to this event must reserve a ticket via ShowTix4U.com to receive an email to watch the performance, though the ticket price is free.

To access a link to watch the Digital Theatre Festival, patrons should visit kutheatre.com/festival. And, to access the UDC Fall Concert Series, visit dance.ku.edu

Looking ahead to Spring 2021, audiences can expect more works that reach across disciplines and involve devised theatre relevant to this moment in time, including Musings of Fire.

Musings of Fire, Feb. 19-21. KU's collaboration with Island Shakespeare Festival will give select students professional credit with an established Shakespeare festival in Washington state while still in school. A new work, using Shakespeare's text and reflecting on theatre in the digital age and social justice issues, Musings of Fire is currently being devised and will record in February for a digital, world premiere in the spring via the internet. The theatre production will be directed by KU Visiting Assistant Professor Santiago Sosa. 

empty photo of the Crafton Preyer Theatre, logos for the University Theatre and University Dance Company

"We will definitely miss having a live audience this semester," Bial said. "But the techniques and partnerships we forge now will help us push the boundaries of the art form, foster an even stronger theatre and dance program, and better prepare our students to enter the rapidly changing performing arts industry." 

"Our department's performance divisions are two ways the public gets an opportunity to witness the growth of KU students. We are proud we can offer the community accessible theatre and showcase stories that spark dialogue about difficult subjects," said Katherine Pryor, Director of Theatre. "As you explore KU's University Theatre, you'll discover we offer benefits unlike other local arts organizations including having a front row seat to seeing Jayhawks grow."

For the fall, donations to the UDC or the University Theatre production programs, through KU Endowment, will be accepted. There will be a link on our website that will provide an easy means to support these programs. However, KU Theatre & Dance's productions will be free to attend in the fall. No tickets necessary. "Producing theatre and dance online, with no ticket fees to boot, lets us share our art with a larger and more far-flung audience than ever before," Bial said.

Fall 2020    
Oct. 9-10 University Dance Company Fall Concert Series 1 Choreography by James Moreno
and Jerel Hilding
Oct. 23-25,
Oct. 27-29
Digital Theatre Festival Student-submitted works
Oct. 30-31 University Dance Company Fall Concert Series 2

Choreography by Patrick Suzeau, Michelle Heffner Hayes, and Maya Tillman Rayton

Dec. 3 University Dance Company Fall Concert Series 3 Choreography by Waeli Wang and
James Moreno

All dates subject to change. Please check the website for the most recent updates: kutheatre.com/performances

The University Theatre and University Dance Company are production wings of the University of Kansas' Department of Theatre & Dance, offering eight public productions throughout the academic year. The University Theatre and University Dance Company productions are funded, in part, by Student Senate fees, and the theatre's season is supported by Truity Credit Union. 

The Department of Theatre & Dance is one of three departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies. To learn more about the Department of Theatre & Dance, visit theatredance.ku.edu


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