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Fall Quarter At Claire Trevor School of the Arts: A Creative Season of Virtual Events

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Fall 2020 quarter is in full swing at UCI, and despite hopes that we’d be back to hands-on learning, the continued prevalence of COVID-19 means that students and professors are gearing up for another quarter of virtual education. Online learning isn’t ideal for anyone, but for students at UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts (CTSA), it seems almost impossible. However, thanks to the innovation and flexibility of faculty and students, CTSA has been able to provide ample opportunities for education and performance. Here’s your guide to what’s going on with the Arts this quarter. 

For the UCI Department of Drama, fall quarter usually consists of two Mainstage shows as well as a few other productions, including some student-directed plays or independent projects. When the UCI Department of Drama season was announced last spring, “Shrek the Musical” and “El Henry” were scheduled to run this quarter. However, given the online learning restrictions, “Shrek the Musical” has been postponed to fall 2021, and “El Henry” has been slated for spring 2021. 

In their place, the UCI Drama Department will put on two completely virtual productions: Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms” and “The Jubilee and Me – Songs I Never Got to Sing,” a musical revue of original songs.

Drama student Jessica Spruiell, who has been cast in the musical revue, gave the New University some information about this unique show.

“Everything will be pre-recorded, and we’re experimenting with digital effects that we can use to make it more interesting than just singing in front of a blank wall,” Spruiell said.

It seems that this show will not only be a showcase of UCI Drama’s talent, but also an exciting exploration of how technical creativity can enhance online performances in this digital age. It will premiere here on Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. and will be available to stream on demand until Dec. 13. 

A large part of the UCI Dance Department’s fall quarter is typically spent preparing for the “New Slate” performance, which consists of numbers choreographed by the MFA dance candidates. As for fall 2020, the show will go on as a virtual dance concert called “New Slate Online.” On Dec. 10, 11 and 12 at 8 p.m., the virtual production will stream online, followed by a live talk-back about this new age of dance and choreography. All you have to do to attend this free performance is register here

For this show, each choreographer will get to choose whether they want their piece to be pre-recorded or performed live on a video streaming platform like Zoom. However, most of them are still in the decision-making process. 

Zoom rehearsals started last week, and dance student Isabella Granqvist, who’ll be performing in Brittany Woo’s dance number, told the New University that it’s going well, despite some technical difficulties.

“The trickiest part is figuring out the timing, since lagging on Zoom can make it difficult to see if everyone is in unison. But we’re all really excited to do the show, so everyone’s making it work,” Granqvist said. 

The UCI Department of Music has some exciting events coming up as well. The “1619 Project in 2020 | African American Music: the Sound of Freedom’s Journey” is an online educational panel organized by music professor Nina Scolnik. It will be presented as a webinar on Oct. 27 at 4 p.m., and you can register for free here. According to the UCI Music Department’s website, this event “explores innovation in musical expressions from spirituals to jazz and contemporary music, investigating freedom as a process in motion, not as a destination.” 

Additionally, the UCI Music Department will present a performance by the Boston-based mixed quartet group “Hub New Music” on Nov. 17 and 19. This event, “Hub New Music in 360°,” will feature “new works by doctoral students in the Integrated Composition Improvisation and Technology program.” Register for free here

Hub New Music, a contemporary musical quartet

As for the UCI Department of Art, they have been working to find a way to present the Thesis Exhibitions of the 2020 MFA class. The University Art Galleries (UAG) were set to open on April 4, 2020 to showcase “MFA Thesis Exhibitions, Part 1,” but CTSA shut the event down due to COVID-19 restrictions. Now, they are preparing to safely mount that art once again and have named the project “Post-Graduate MFA Thesis Exhibitions, Class of 2020.” 

For the time being, the UAG remains closed to the public, but they are attempting to share as much as possible about last year’s MFA students and their fascinating exhibitions on their website, which can be seen here. You can also check out their Instagram account, @uag_ucirvine. 

Despite the disheartening effect that COVID-19 has had on the arts industry as a whole, it’s extremely inspiring to see UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts continue to create, perform, educate and showcase their students’ incredible talent. 

Rachel Golkin is an Entertainment Staff Writer. She can be reached at