Wayne State University’s Hilberry, Bonstelle and Studio theaters may be dark, but the Department of Theater and Dance continues to light a creative spark through online offerings and audience outreach programs.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is experiencing radical changes in how education is taking place, and Wayne State University is no different,” said Ethan Williams, Theater Management graduate research assistant. “We continue to provide engaging art for you and an incredible education for our students, and we cannot wait to connect with you throughout in the coming year.”
Thomas Karr, director of marketing and audience engagement, said the Department of Theatre and Dance appreciates patron patience as they navigate the pandemic and its impact on the arts.
“The health and safety of audience members, students, faculty and staff is our priority,” he said. “Our decisions are guided by the state of Michigan, Wayne State University, and informed by medical experts.”
Karr said the season will feature three signature series, all online: A production series, with online works; a dialogue series, to engage audiences with discussions; and a studio series, which will explore the behind-the-scenes artistic process.
The production series will provide digital versions of theatrical experiences. While admission is free, a $10 donation per attendee is appreciated to help support the department.
“Pingree’s Past,” by Garlia Cornelia, a new play set in modern-day Detroit, will be directed by guest artist Gary Anderson, a 2016 Kresge Fellow and artistic director of Detroit’s Plowshares Theatre Company.
Playwright Naomi Iizuka’s “Anon(ymous),” a contemporary update of Homer’s “Odyssey,” follows a young refugee, Anon, who wanders the United States after becoming separated from his mother. He encounters people both cruel and kind in an ever-changing landscape.
“Healing through Dance and Drums” will explore the African American experience, from the past to the present day, while “Shakespeare Sings,” with guest artist and composer Scotty Arnold, will offer a musical program, using actors in the graduate program, drawing from Shakespeare’s rich words and lyrics.
In “Unveiling the Mask,” Billicia Hines will direct a series of student-performed solo pieces, which will focus on portraits of people influenced by culture, history and personal experiences, while “Trivoya’s Gold” looks at life, death and nationalism set against the seductive spotlight of Olympic glory.
Additional dance performances will be highlighted as well, with possible pop-up screening sites and festival productions, pandemic permitting.
The Dialogue series, which will be offered free of charge, is designed to engage audiences in learning and discussion.
A Reading Circle will help deepen the connection between the performing arts and civic engagement, while helping to build a more diverse audience base.
A Friday Dance Symposium will feature guest artists sharing both their current creative projects and their ongoing research.
The Apple Discussion Series will highlight the experiences of theatrical actors, designers, producers and more, while the a new podcast, “Five Minutes to Places,” will explore a wide variety of topics, from current issues challenging people who work in the performing arts, to an inside look at the creative process behind the scenes.
VLOG, a reoccurring video series, will cover local theater, artists and arts leaders, while exploring the rich culture of the performing arts world.
The third creative entry, the Studio Hours series, is a free program which will explore the creative processes that bring magic to the stage, from the design labs to the physical workshops. Demonstrations will be included, as will skill-sharing segments, ranging from stage lighting secrets to dance technique.
For more information, including links to specific programs, go to theatreanddanceatwayne.com.