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School of Theatre & Dance Fall 2020 Production Plan

Last Updated: July 13, 2020
Contact: Joshua Williamson, Director, School of Theatre & Dance, joshua.williamson@mail.wvu.edu

Producing theatre and dance events is the center of what we do as artists. So much so, that every degree program in the School requires numerous credits for the active participation in the creation of dance and theatre performances. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most producing organizations across the country have closed their doors until late spring in the hopes that it will be safe to once again gather in public.
 
In the academic setting, we must also be mindful of our obligations to offer a meaningful curriculum that keeps students on-track for their planned degree completion. With these challenges before us, substantial changes are required. These changes come with great sacrifice and disappointment for many, myself included. The following changes come after many long discussions with faculty and administrators on how best to move forward.
 
As the Director of the School of Theatre & Dance and with the support of the Dean of the College of Creative Arts, the following changes will be put in place for the 2020-2021 production season:

  1. The first production, Dance Nation, will be rescheduled for March 2021. The March show,  The Rimers of Eldritch, will be moved to the 2021-2022 season. This will give everyone more time at the start of the fall semester to adjust to the new realities of classes with masks, social distancing, and other adjustments that come in a world with the coronavirus.
     
  2. The October production of Rent has been moved to the Clay Concert Theatre in the Canady Creative Arts Center in an effort to provide sufficient space to permit social distancing. The show’s creative team is hard at work devising a means of staging the show in a manner mindful of distance requirements and other precautions. Only a limited number of tickets will be available for  Rent. The audition process for  Rent will include casting non-theatre majors in an effort to field as diverse a cast as possible. Additional information on the casting process will be posted on our website in August.
     
  3. Shakespeare’s King Lear in November will not be performed before an audience.  Instead, the School is partnering with West Virginia Public Broadcasting to present a televised production of the show. Again, the show’s creative team is developing a means in which to stage and televise the show mindful of distancing and other precautions. This project is in the early conceptual stages as funding is identified and WVPB finalizes its ability to produce the show. Many more announcements about  King Lear will be forthcoming this summer.
     
  4. The Discovery Series performances in the Falbo Theatre are cancelled for the fall semester. The Dance Program is examining moving Celebration of Dance to the Met Theatre and looking at online options, as well. 
     
  5. The LAB Theatre program has been suspended for the fall semester.
     
  6. The Advanced Directing class, and the subsequent performances, have been cancelled for the fall semester.
     
  7. The Office of the Provost has identified performing arts students as a priority testing population similar to student athletes.  The casts of the productions will be tested on a more rigorous basis.  The details of this plan are in development now.
Additional considerations:
  1. All WVU personnel will be required to wear a face covering at all times when inside. Students with legitimate medical conditions that would prevent compliance with this mandate are asked to meet with the Office of Accessibility Services for an assessment.
     
  2. BFA and MFA actors and musical theatre students (Studio Program) are typically required to audition for the mainstage productions. For the fall semester, students may elect to opt out of the audition process.
     
  3. Dance majors should speak with Dr. Kaddar, Director of the Dance Program, for audition planning and scheduling information for  Celebration of Dance and  Dance Now.
     
  4. Students needing to complete practicums such as THET 200/400 and DANC 200/300 will be permitted to substitute other DANC or THET coursework in lieu of these practicum credits. Students should discuss this requirement with their academic advisors at the start of the fall semester.
     
  5. Revised production calendars and rehearsal schedules will be available by the first week of classes.
     
  6. And yes, cast members will be expected to rehearse in masks until further notice.

Decisions regarding the spring semester productions will be delayed until late-September since there are too many variables to predict the ramifications that the virus will have on the schedule. At which time, in collaboration with the faculty and university health officials, I will make further adjustments as warranted.
 
I will be sending out an update at the end of the month with information about classes, labs, and studios.  Students should feel welcome to reach out to specific instructors with questions about their classes and to their academic advisors for course registration changes.
 
Thank you all for your continued patience and understanding.

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