It feels like a lifetime has passed since the Claire Trevor School of the Arts decided to cancel their production of “Shrek” and alter portions of the department’s 2020-2021 season lineup. Like most across the globe, the decision was placed for necessary health precautions during the current pandemic. After the cancellation, I felt impelled to write an article, one that provided hope that the department would somehow rise victorious amidst COVID-19 and provide some sort of out-of-the-box performance opportunity for students. After all, the School of the Arts has always been student-prioritized, which is a feat I am very grateful for, being a current arts student myself. I’ve cultivated the strong belief that if anyone could regulate social distancing protocols and make small shows or staged readings accessible and available to students who still need performance credits, it would be the Department of Drama.
Well, comrades, ask and you shall receive! A public town hall meeting between faculty members was held on May 22 via Zoom, and it was announced that the season lineup would include new productions, several of which are online user friendly. The lineup is as follows:
“A New Musical”
“She Kills Monsters: Virtual Reading”
“Resilience, Resistance, Radiance”
“Junk: A Rock Opera”
I was delighted to see these adjustments to the schedule. Not only does this season offer collaborations with new and upcoming writers and composers, but it also allows students to take advantage of online platforms. In addition, this allows for additional opportunities for students to join a production in this upcoming school year.
For example, “El Henry” was initially canceled along with “Shrek,” so I am ecstatic to see it back on the schedule for students to audition for. Students will also be able to work and study with multiple production companies within the School of the Arts. The devised piece, “Resilience, Resistance, Radiance,” is done in collaboration with three campus theatre companies: Brown Bag, Black Door and Brick Theatre Company, all of whom celebrate equality, heritage, race, individuality, sexual orientation or a combination of the five. The show is bound to be powerful, and I’m so excited to see it take off come spring.
My fellow BFA classmate, Ariella Kvashny, is no stranger to the Claire Trevor stage. Being a seasoned performer herself, Kvashny has been in many productions, including the acclaimed production of “Living Out” as the lead, Anna.
“I’m glad we have a plan set for things if they get better, or get worse,” Kvashny said. “There’s nothing worse than going into a year with negativity and uncertainty, and although that is still massively present, I think the drama department has thought a lot about the ever changing state of the pandemic and how we can create art regardless of where the world is at. I hope for in-person shows, events and performances, but our plan to take it day by day, week by week, quarter by quarter, is very strategic and smart.”
All in all, I am sincerely thankful that the department was able to come to an agreement and offer a solution to the cancelation of shows. It makes me, and I’m sure others in the department as well, feel seen. The department has always been one of openness and sincerity to all students, and even now, amidst a pandemic, I feel the same dedication to the student body as I did when I was able to physically be on campus.
Accessibility to faculty members has also been impeccable. All instructors are almost always willing to meet with you outside of class for feedback, or even life advice. I have stopped by Drama Department Chair Don Hill’s office from time to time for the chance he may impart his wisdom onto me. So, it’s no surprise to me then that the faculty as a whole would be publicly available to the student body online and band together in difficult times in order to fight for the arts. The town hall meeting itself is an admirable feat. From starting the meeting with the popular tune “Happy” by Pharell Williams to ending it with an uplifting send off to students, the meeting was handled with grace, and above all, an aura of hope. I’m looking forward to the initiative being set to motion come fall 2020. We’re going to get through this together. I have no doubt about it.
Emily Abeles is an Opinion Intern for the 2020 spring quarter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.