BOONE — In lieu of in-person performances during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Appalachian State University Department of Theatre and Dance has created its own virtual stage and a slate of seven performance opportunities for students.
By partnering with other organizations to develop new performances and selecting original work from a number of artists, the department is offering a line-up that includes the timely “COVID Chronicles” monologues, a throwback radio drama of Dracula with the university’s radio station, a student dance showcase and an internationally curated dance film festival.
“I’ve been so impressed at the creativity of our faculty, and their determination to deliver a virtual season of new works and regional premieres to allow our students to hone their craft and perform during a time when our normal stages will be dark,” said Michael Helms, department chair and professor. “We look forward to a time when we can all return to a shared stage, but are proud that we’ve created a safe space and collaborative way to move forward this fall.”
The performances are scheduled to take place between September and November, and tickets will be available on the department’s website. In addition to the university’s radio station, WASU-FM, other co-collaborators are the American Dance Festival, AppTV, the Common Reading Program, the Climate Stories Collaborative and the Department of Communication.
“Performing arts lend themselves to collaboration,” said Helms. “They are ideal mediums for combining the collective wisdom, talents, and resources of each partner into a consolidated effort far greater than what any of us could have accomplished on our own. By offering these events online, we are able to provide our students with opportunities to perform while maintaining safe social distancing during COVID-19 and expand our audience to anyone who would like to ‘travel’ to Boone to experience one of our virtual performances.”
The following is the App State Department of Theatre and Dance production schedule for fall 2020:
The COVID Chronicles: Monologues Created During the Pandemic
Sept. 18, Oct. 2, 16 and 23 — 7 p.m.
Fresh, original works created and performed by Appalachian students. Directed by various theater and dance faculty.
The COVID Chronicles are unique and contemporary monologues that share student responses to COVID-19 in dramatic fashion, creating acts of theater that are vital, timely, moving and irreverent, documenting an unprecedented moment in history. The COVID Chronicles will be performed on four different Friday evenings early in the fall semester, each evening a different collection of monologues.
”Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore” by Elizabeth Rush
Selected readings directed by Derek Davidson
Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 4 at 2 p.m.
App State’s Common Reading Program selection this year is the 2019 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in General Nonfiction, hailed by the selection committee as, “a “rigorously reported story about American vulnerability to rising seas, particularly disenfranchised people with limited access to the tools of rebuilding.” The Department of Theatre and Dance, in collaboration with The Climate Stories Collaborative, will host selected readings from this affecting work with moving stories that lend themselves to powerful and timely theatre. Our students will interpret the stories Rush recorded of people from every corner of the country, all of whom are experiencing the dire consequences of rising sea levels and rising temperatures due to climate change.
American Dance Festival’s Movies by Movers
Oct. 12-18, streamed on a continuous basis
Directed and curated by Cara Hagan
ADF’s Movies by Movers, an annual, international film festival dedicated to the celebration of the conversation between the moving body and the camera returns. Online and free, the festival will be Oct. 12-18 and feature more than 80 short and feature-length films from around the world. Curator and associate dance professor Cara Hagan is coordinating an artist talk during the 2020 festival with details to be announced. For information and access the films, www.adfmbm2020.com.
First Year Showcase — Re/Imagining Performance: A Digital Collective
Oct. 19-25 at 7 p.m.
Directed by Gina L. Grandi and Cara Hagan
Students will curate a performance website that features digital, site specific performances, process documentation and discussion, and think pieces. We will create in our homes, on campus, alone, in small groups and as a whole. Our circumstances will be one of the parameters that informs our process, where content and delivery become equal considerations. A live virtual event will mark the site’s premiere.
Dracula: A Radio Play
Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, times to be announced
Adapted and directed by Derek Gagnier
Relive the thrills of 1930s radio dramas as the App State Department of Theatre and Dance and the Department of Communication present a radio broadcast of “Dracula.” Based from the 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker, this new adaptation by Derek Gagnier will feature the vocal talents of university students. The production will be broadcast on Appalachian’s student-run WASU radio station during Halloween weekend.
Dancing With Ourselves
Nov. 5-7 at 7 p.m.
Facilitated by Laurie Atkins and Chris Yon
Dancing With Ourselves is a collaborative dance project made and performed on Zoom. Facilitators plan to use the virtual background feature in Zoom for dancers to appear to be in close proximity, sharing the screen and dancing with others.
Waiting for the Host: An Online Play by Marc Palmieri
Nov. 19-22 at 7 p.m.
Directed by Paulette Marty
The setting for “Waiting for the Host: An Online Play” is April 2020 and COVID-19 is raging through New York City. A church pastor still wants to produce his church’s annual Easter passion play ... online. He gathers a cast of actors on Zoom to rehearse. As they grapple with the various challenges of videoconferencing, isolation and potential contagion, they also rediscover the enduring power of human connection. This production is the regional premiere of the work.
For more information about the Department of Theatre and Dance’s 2020 fall season, visit www.theatreanddance.appstate.edu.