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IU Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance announces online alternative for upcoming productions



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The cast of “Hamlet” stands on stage during the first act Dec. 3, 2019, in Ruth N. Halls Theatre. IU’s Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance recently announced almost all events for the 2020-21 season will take place online due to the coronavirus pandemic. IDS file photo and Elle Kreamer

IU’s Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance recently announced almost all events for the 2020-21 season will take place online due to COVID-19. Many components of preparing for a performance are included in this and the department will adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when in-person attendance is deemed necessary. 

Thedepartment’s student advisory board opened auditions Aug. 15 to students via Instagram. All auditions this season will take place online. Students will record themselves delivering monologues and performing sections of music. Callbacks will be held Aug. 25 - Sept. 4 via Zoom. All rehearsals and performances will take place over Zoom.

Only two events will have in-person performances — “Street Scenes” and the “Head Over Heels” concert.  

The decision to move to an online model came down to two factors — the necessity of performances for the department's degree programs and student safety.

“The presenting season, which is where we produce these performances, both in theater and dance, in our theaters for live audiences, that is sort of the heart of our degree program.” said Selene Carter, an associate professor and chair for the department . 

Both the performance and theater tech and production majors have curriculums that depend on the creation and execution of a live production. However, IU said it’s not safe for any aspect of the performing arts to be in person at this time. 

“It’s really about how we engage our majors and best practices of study and creative practice and creative processes that don’t involve live performance,” Carter said. 

Despite some reservations, Carter is optimistic about students' ability to learn and excel in the online format. 

“I feel our students are so much more acculturated to this type of learning and this practice given the prevalence of digital and technological engagement and social media,”  Carter said.

Other professors are also confident in the students' ability to adapt and create during this time. 

“The pandemic changed what we were going to learn, but they were able to learn what I needed them to and create worthwhile art,“ said Andrew Hopson, an associate professor of sound design.

These changes are not without difficulty. Hopson said some aspects of learning, such as discussions and improving familiarity with software , would be more difficult in the online platform. 

“New skills are being learned that we wouldn’t have taught before,” Hopson said.   

Students have recognized the challenges and opportunities of online performance classes. 

“It’s a little hard to take those and not be in person," senior George Muldersaid. "But IU always does a really good job of reflecting what the theater world is outside the university.” 

Freshman Sam Hall has said he is confident in the department’s ability to keep them safe during class and productions after learning about the online format.  

“I don’t think IU is going to put us in a position where we’re going to have an unsafe production for the students or for the faculty,“ Hall said.

Both students said they still hope to be involved in the upcoming campus productions despite the majority online format. Audition submissions for the fall semester closed Sunday and callbacks will begin soon. Performances for the 2020-21 season will begin Sept. 19. 

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