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Navigating Theatre and Dance at KU this Fall

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Viruses, it turns out, don’t follow a script. So, we’re improvising a bit. 

In lieu of the existing titles we had hoped to bring you, we’re bringing you all new works of theatre and dance that speak to this singular moment. These new creations will be original, authentic, spontaneous, and student centered. They will also, for the first time in our history, be presented for free via the internet. 

The centerpiece of fall will be a digital theatre festival based on student submissions. These projects are being built from the ground up around issues of interest and importance to our students. 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 resistance. The University Dance Company will present a series of site-specific and screen dances. Its theme is, aptly, resilience. Faculty choreographers have begun rehearsing with student cast members as they prepare to present the UDC Fall Concert in a series of screen dances. 

Yes, our theatres – Crafton-Preyer Theatre, William Inge Memorial Theatre, and Elizabeth Sherbon Blackbox Theatre – are dark, but there is light. 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. 

Nothing can make up for the sacrifices made and losses felt during these socially distant times. Nothing changes the power of public protest, the importance of civic engagement, or the fact that Black Lives Matter. And nothing changes the basic truth about theatre and dance artists: we want to perform, we need to perform, and we will perform however we can.  

This will be an exploratory year as we lean into the restrictions that the pandemic has placed on our university and on the performing arts everywhere. We welcome you to join us on this adventure. 

Leaning into the newness, 

Henry Bial, Chair of the Department, Professor
Katherine Pryor, Director of Theatre 

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