KU Theatre & Dance 2022-23 Season Unveiled

Stories and Movement Exploring Love and Humanity 

The Department of Theatre & Dance at the University of Kansas announces its 2022-23 season, which offers lightness, love, and plenty of action. This year, the University Theatre and University Dance Company, the two production wings inside of the Department, are preparing for five in-person productions. 

"Our team of students, faculty, staff, and special guest artists is committed to giving our community performances that inspire and entertain, whether new works or reimagined classics,” said Dr. Henry Bial, Professor and Chair of the Department. “The support of our audience helps students develop the skills necessary to succeed in the performing arts, while gaining the confidence to advocate for positive change in the future.” 

This fall features two contemporary adaptations of classical European theatre: The Labyrinth of Desire, a cloak-and-dagger romance adapted by playwright Caridad Svich from a 17th-century Spanish classic by Lope De Vega, guest directed by Paris Crayton III; and Everybody, adapted by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins from the classic morality play Everyman into a dark comedy on the topic of death, directed by PhD Candidate Timmia Hearn DeRoy. The University Dance Company Fall Concert showcases the work of guest choreographer Kristopher Estes-Brown of Kansas City as well as works by faculty members and the recently formed Jayhawk Tap Company. 

Spring brings two productions that leverage the collaboration of both the University Dance Company and the University Theatre. Text and movement collide in Love and Information, an innovative and dynamic production of a 2012 play by Caryl Churchill, co-directed by KU Associate Professors Jane Barnette and James Moreno. With an intimate staging by Artistic Director/Assistant Professor Markus Potter with choreography by Professor Michelle Heffner Hayes and Music Direction by Ryan McCall, the award-winning classic Cabaret serves as the season finale. 

Individual and season tickets are available for purchase online at kutheatre.com, by calling 785-864-3982, or in person at the box office in Murphy Hall, Monday-Friday noon to 5pm. KU Theatre & Dance offers discounted tickets for KU faculty, staff, students, and retirees, as well as group discounts. The Jack B. and Judy L Wright Student Ticket Endowment is a resource for KU and Haskell students needing assistance attending shows. Contact Jim Dick, Managing Director, at 785-864-3985.  

When the Department is contractually allowed, performances will be livestreamed. Those prices will be listed on the livestreaming page and may vary from in-person prices. View our Season Schedule booklet.

Oct. 14-22

The Labyrinth of Desire by Caridad Svich

Guest directed by Paris Crayton III

Nov. 11-13

University Dance Company
Fall Concert

Featuring guest choreographer Kristopher Estes-Brown

Dec. 2-8

Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Directed by Timmia Hearn DeRoy

Feb. 9-19

Love and Information by Caryl Churchill

Co-directed by Jane Barnette and James Moreno

April 20-30

Cabaret, book by Joe Masteroff, based on the play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood, music by John Kander, and lyrics by Fred Ebb

Directed by Markus Potter, choreographed by Michelle Heffner Hayes

Dates subject to change.

The Labyrinth of Desire, Oct. 14-22 Masquerading suitors pursue Laura for her beauty, her wit, and her dowry. When Florela’s fiancé Alejandro joins the pursuit, Florela pursues him. Florela goes undercover, befriending Laura and falling in love with her too. This breezy comedy of romance and hijinks asks, “what compels us to hide our true self” and “to what lengths will we go to satisfy desire?” Adapted from Lope de Vega's play La Prueba de los Ingenios, The Labyrinth of Desire’s sharp dialogue and timeless themes mixes cloak and dagger comedy alongside contemporary drama to question the power of love and transformation.   

University Dance Company Fall Concert, Nov. 11-13 Faculty choreographers James Moreno, Ashley Brittingham, and Maya Tillman-Rayton, together with select student dancers, show their communal love for ballet, modern/contemporary, and hip-hop. Guest choreographer Kristopher Estes-Brown, the founder and artistic director of Concept Zero, presents a new contemporary work. The Kansas City-based composer, choreographer, and educator has had his works produced around the country and has danced professionally with Milwaukee Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, and Eugene Ballet, among others. The recently formed Jayhawk Tap Company is also featured in the concert. Electrifying works explore the connection between emotion and physiology, as well as the agency we give ourselves – and others give us – to feel happiness and pleasure.  

Everybody, Dec. 2-8 Random is not random. Chance is not by chance. These themes are explored in this modern adaptation of the 15th century morality play. Each night the audience will choose which member of an ensemble cast will face Death and who will play the people, things, and morals of which their life (was) comprised. With quick, offbeat humor and contemporary dialogue, the play shines a spotlight on that terrifying, illusive, question that we have all had to face, especially in the last few years: what would happen if Death called? In this journey through the meaning of life, we are asked to reflect on love, friendship, materialism, religion, and regret.  

Love and Information, Feb. 9-19 Teasing out the truth and assigning it meaning is difficult, especially in a multifaceted, 24/7 media landscape where misinformation spreads and we find ourselves constantly, mindlessly scrolling. In Love and Information, student actors, dancers, and designers are given the freedom and responsibility to make a play that resonates for them and their unique perspectives, choosing the order and setting of short scenes which explore the intersections of emotion, knowledge, and the search for community. Join us for the Department’s first fully collaborative production between theatre and dance, and witness a kaleidoscope of experiences and encounters that investigate how humans create meaning and purpose. British playwright Caryl Churchill has earned several Obie Awards for her work and is a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.  

Cabaret, April 20-30 Willkommen to the Kit Kat Club. In this provocative, Tony Award winning musical, the euphoria of free expression, new relationships, and the seedy nightclub scene slowly fades away against the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. An ominous and violent situation begins to emerge; some remain oblivious or apathetic, while others sound the alarm or flee. With grit, dance, and a highly celebrated musical score, Cabaret ultimately proclaims “it can happen here.” Our unique staging allows for a more immersive experience for audience members.  

In addition, the Department will present the Fall and Spring Senior Dance Showcase, which are academic events open for public viewing. The showcase is the KU Dance major’s capstone project in which students present their in-depth embodied research. Each semester, a different group of students is selected to create works in multiple styles of dance that explore a wide range of subject matter. This year, the Department plans to incorporate a few theatre pieces from its courses into the showcase.