LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 19, 2020) — Following in the footsteps of many professional theatre and dance companies, University of Kentucky’s Department of Theatre and Dance is finding new ways to connect with audiences this season.
Each school year, the department typically produces a season of five to six productions at the Guignol Theatre in the Fine Arts Building. But as COVID-19 found its way to the Bluegrass last March, the department was forced to close its spring schedule early, in the midst of rehearsals for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
While the curtain has dropped on live performances staged inside arts venues because of the pandemic, UK Theatre and Dance has found a way to keep audiences and students safe while providing an outlet to perform and fulfill its curricular mission.
For 2020-21, the department’s season, Relevant Creativity Series, is utilizing technology to go on demand like many of the country’s newest films. From socially distanced productions filmed entirely on campus to ones crafted from individual videos from students quarantined at home, UK Theatre and Dance will begin to drop the series' productions this weekend on demand with “Everybody.”
Tony Hardin, department chair, explained, "The Relevant Creativity Series is the University of Kentucky Department of Theatre and Dance's response to being artists in this unprecedented time when theatres and performance venues are shuttered due to the airborne COVID-19 virus. These wildly creative projects offer a substitute to a traditional season. It gives our students an outlet for their voices to be heard and talents to be seen outside of the classroom. Working within the constraints of COVID mitigation protocols, the art, craft and discipline of theatre and dance are still happening in our department."
The work of Obie Award-winning playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, “Everybody” is a modern adaptation of “Everyman,” a 15th-century morality play. In “Everybody” audiences follow the Everyman’s journey to find the meaning of life as it is decided by a literal nightly lottery. UK’s production is directed by Peter Allen Stone, assistant professor of theatre.
Viewing for UK Theatre and Dance’s free on demand online production of “Everybody” will begin at midnight (Friday), Nov. 20, and will run through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22. During this date range, you can view the performance anytime by clicking on this link: www.showtix4u.com/events/18649 (once clicked, you will have 48 hours to view the performance).
Like “Everybody,” the series will make several UK Theatre and Dance productions available on demand for viewing from the safety of your couch in the coming year. Other productions that will be presented this fall and spring as part of the Relevant Creativity Series are:
- “Once Vacant: Bodies in Motion … Still,” — the opening production of the series — a dance concert performed for a live socially distanced audience outside in a parking lot on campus on Oct. 17;
- “Pasek and Paul,” a video concert of the music of Oscar, Grammy, Tony and Golden Globe Award-winning songwriters Benji Pasek and Justin Paul by students in the UK Musical Theatre Certificate program;
- (in)Visible 3.12,” the second in a series of installations by Yoon Bae, assistant professor of scenic design, that marked 200 days since live theatre ended across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic (filmed in early October);
- “Black Lives Scripted,” directed and conceived by theatre and African American and Africana studies senior Moniece Mosley and performed and presented by the Alliance for Social Action Performance (ASAP), a new student organization interested in promoting social justice through performance;
- “Better Maybe,” by Caridad Svich and directed by UK lecturer Stephen Wrentmore, presented as a video recording and part of the Play at Home Initiative, created by a group of regional theatres who have generated "a series of short plays commissioned specifically for this moment of unprecedented isolation to inspire joy and connection for all";
- "Distant Dreaming," "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" re-imagined to be directed by Stephen Wrentmore, scheduled for February 2021;
- "Three Sisters," a modern staged-reading of the classic play directed by Christina Ritter, a senior lecturer in theatre, scheduled for March 2021;
- "(Echo) Location - 10th Anniversary Dance Concert," a site-specific mobile dance concert with artistic direction by Susie Thiel, director of UK Dance Program, April 2 and 3;
- a concert version of a musical (to be announced later), directed by Nancy Jones, theatre professor and director of the Musical Theatre Certificate program, April 30; and
- Staged Readings of Student Works, readings from TA 316 and TA 436 taught by Herman D. Farrell III, University Research Professor, scheduled for April.
As events from the Relevant Creativity Series are completed, they will be made available on demand throughout the the rest of the fall and spring semesters. To keep up with this series’ upcoming productions, visit: https://finearts.uky.edu/theatre-dance/current-season.
The Department of Theatre and Dance, part of UK College of Fine Arts, is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre. Students in the department get hands-on training and one-on-one mentorship from professional theatre and dance faculty and renowned guest artists in acting, directing, playwriting, theatrical design and technology, and dance. From mainstage productions to student-produced shows, students have plenty of opportunities to participate on stage or backstage. Special programs include a musical theatre certificate, education abroad, as well as a thriving dance program that emphasizes technique, composition, performance and production.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.