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‘Everybody’ can watch UK Theatre and Dance productions on demand during 2020-2021 season


By Whitney Hale and Jennifer Sciantarelli
University of Kentucky

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.”

UK Theatre and Dance will drop its on demand performance of “Everybody” midnight Friday, Nov. 20. (Photo from UK Now)

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.”

Individuals who were unable to catch the UK Dance Program’s “Once Vacant … Bodies Still in Motion” live (from their cars) on Oct. 17 will have a second chance to see the show on demand. (Photo by Mark Cornelison, UK)

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 visiting www.showtix4u.com (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);

Students came together to film Yoon Bae’s installation “(in)VISIBLE 3.12” in late September and early October. This performance should be available on demand before the end of the year. (Photo by Pete Comparoni, UK)

• “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.

More Relevant Creativity Series events will be made available on-demand throughout the fall and spring semesters as they are completed. To follow the series’ upcoming productions, visit finearts.uky.edu

Whitney Hale and Jennifer Sciantarelli write for UK Now


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