Announcing our Fall 2020 Productions!

Published February 16, 2021

SP 2021 Season.
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Buffalo, NY (February 10, 2021) – Join the University at Buffalo Department of Theatre and Dance (THD) for a unique spring season of virtual musicals, plays and dance – where nationally recognized directors and choreographers work with esteemed faculty and emerging student talent from UB to produce innovative original productions which both entertain and explore the human condition. Given the challenges of the global health emergency, the arts offer welcome comfort, perspective, escape, joy and intellectual stimulation.

As with fall 2020, THD’s spring 2021 season of productions will take place entirely in the digital realm, with both live and pre-recorded segments filmed at our traditional Amherst, NY home UB Center for the Arts, on the UB North Campus, and observing all social distancing and safety protocols for the best experience for our talented study body and dedicated patrons. 

Topsy Turvy 1:1.

“LIVING IN A TOPSY TURVY WORLD: THE THEATRE OF GILBERT AND SULLIVAN”

March 26 - 27, 2021 @ 7:30pm

March 28, 2021 @ 2pm & 7:30pm

Online via Showtix4u.com: https://www.showtix4u.com/events/18238​ 

THD’s traditional spring 2021 musical will be a newly conceived virtual music theatre revue titled “Living in a Topsy Turvy World: The Theatre of Gilbert and Sullivan.”

The compilation of songs and scenes are from four shows written by the 19th century team of Sir Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert, who became beloved for their knack for turning the world upside down or “topsy-turvy.” With excerpts from “H.M.S. Pinafore,” “Iolanthe,” “Princess Ida,” and “The Gondoliers,” the project promises to be both fun and relevant during our pandemic topsy-turvydom.  

The show is conceived and music directed by associate professor Nathan R. Matthews. Gary John La Rosa returns to direct his fourth production for Theatre and Dance. A UCLA alumnus, he has staged well over 300 productions nationally. Respected for accurately recreating the Jerome Robbins staging of “Fiddler on the Roof,” he directed its 50th Anniversary on Broadway and appears in the current PBS streaming documentary “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles.” Robbins has worked with Chita Rivera, Jay Leno, Queen Latifah, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Lainie Kazan, Topol, Joshua Bell and Jason Alexander, and his credits include Broadway, Las Vegas, and national and international tours. 

The show features a cast of UB performance students enrolled in Matthews’s creative research project course. 

Trifles 1:1.

“TRIFLES,” BY SUSAN GLASPELL

April 9 – 10, 2021 @ 7:30pm

April 11, 2021 @ 2pm & 7:30pm

Online via Showtix4u.com: https://www.showtix4u.com/events/18238​ 

When Mr. Wright, a rural Nebraskan farmer, is found strangled in his bed, his wife is jailed as the main suspect. But as the men charged with solving the case descend on the couple’s farmhouse, the men’s wives begin to find evidence of their own. Susan Glaspell’s one-act drama “Trifles,” which was loosely based on a real murder she covered as a journalist, is frequently listed among the best plays of early twentieth-century American theatre. A feminist whodunit with high stakes, “Trifles” is masterful in its realistic language, crisp pace, and dynamic women characters.

UB Theatre and Dance will stream two versions of “Trifles,” under the direction of assistant professor and associate chair Dr. Meredith Conti. “’Trifles’ is a character-driven piece that explores how long distances and extreme isolation affect human relationships, as well as the hope that can be found in supportive communities," Conti remarks. "It may have been first performed in 1916, but ‘Trifles’ feels perfectly crafted to speak to our present moment. With two casts of actors and Zoom as our artistic medium, we will be able to explore the diverse issues in Glaspell’s play in ways unique to 2021.”

Susan Glaspell (1876 – 1948) was an American playwright, novelist, journalist and actress born in Davenport, IA. With her husband George Cram Cook, she founded the famed Provincetown Players in Provincetown, MA, whose members included Eugene O’Neill, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Paul Robeson. Glaspell’s first play, the realistic “Trifles,” was a hit; she later penned expressionistic and historical plays, and her 1930 play “Alison’s House” won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Following Glaspell’s death in 1948, her written works—including her plays, best-selling novels, and acclaimed short stories—fell out of print. In the 1970s, during the height of second-wave feminism, Glaspell’s work was "rediscovered" and celebrated by a new generation of theatre-makers. She is now considered among the most important playwrights of modern American theatre.

MFA Dance Thesis Concert.

MFA DANCE THESIS CONCERT

April 16 – 17, 2021 @ 7:30pm 

April 18, 2021 @ 2pm & 7:30pm

Online via UB Center for the Arts YouTube

The fourth annual MFA Dance Thesis Concert will feature new works by MFA student choreographers Kate Mackey and Phil Wackerfuss, with undergraduate dancers Anna Caison Boyd, Lily Colligan, Alexis Corletta, Zuriel Enoe, Devon Hard, Katy Maddalina, Delia Mandik, Leah Mcnerney, Mia Pierce, Haley Sanders, and Natasha Skidmore, plus collaborator/editor Michael Spears. The faculty supervisor is assistant professor and director of graduate dance, Dr. Ariel Nereson. 

The production showcases the work of the department’s graduating MFA students and features collaborations with other media artists and students. It is an opportunity to see the culmination of three years of creative research by the next generation of choreographers, teachers, and researchers in the dance field.

Dance MFA candidate and choreographer Phil Wackerfuss collaborates with undergraduate dancers Corletta, Sanders, and Maddalina to create a technologically-enhanced practice of communal dancing. “Acknowledging the role technology plays in our social connectivity, we commit to society’s exchange of physical presence for a digital one,” explained Wackerfuss. 

The challenges of Covid-19 have provided an opportunity to build a unique space where functional health precautions are also a site of aesthetic research. The rehearsal process began on Zoom, where the “digital self” is at the forefront. “With improvisation we attempted to include these images in our conception of self as we remember what it is that makes us dance,” said Wackerfuss. On stage, live projections function as extensions of the dancers’ bodies and question the separation between self/other, mind/body, and past/present/future.

Kate Mackey’s thesis work is a collaborative dance film that explores the familiar world of home-offices and socially-distanced dance spaces through portals made of plastic pools and a variety of filming methods. Mackey's piece will be choreographed entirely through Zoom and includes a fully dancer-filmed opening section.

UB’s dance program is built on the belief that dance is a fundamental expression of humanity with the ability to inform, reflect upon, lead, and transform local and global change in the 21st century. With close faculty mentorship and numerous opportunities to create and present work, MFA Dance students engage in advanced practical, theoretical, and critical inquiry while honing their abilities as artists, dance makers, educators, innovators, and leaders. Students create a research path that fits their interests, culminating in an MFA creative thesis project and the MFA Thesis Concert. For more information or to apply to the UB Dance MFA please visit: https://arts-sciences.buffalo.edu/theatre-dance/graduate/dance-mfa.html

Pipeline 1:1.

STUDENT DIRECTED SERIES: “PIPELINE,” BY DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU

April 23 – 24, 2021 @ 7:30pm 

April 25, 2021 @ 2pm & 7:30pm

Online via Showtix4u.com: https://www.showtix4u.com/events/18238

“Pipeline,” by Dominique Morisseau, first opened off-Broadway in 2017. The groundbreaking play tells the story of a Black inner-city public school teacher named Nya and her son Omari. Nya is dedicated to her pupils, but equally determined to give her son Omari better life opportunities via private schooling. We follow their story after Omari lashes out at a teacher who pushes him too far. Can Nya help Omari overcome his anger and sense of injustice, to navigate the pitfalls of an imperfect education system while remaining true to her sense of her community’s ideals? The story shines a light on the “school-to-prison pipeline.” This trend disproportionately affects students in disadvantaged communities, especially Black and Brown communities.

Co-directed by junior Sydné Jackson and sophomore Tioga Simpson, “Pipeline” will be rehearsed and performed entirely virtually by an all-student cast and crew. “Pipeline” is the first play to be presented by Theatre and Dance’s Dreams Affirmed collective, an alliance of students of color from across the Department. It is also a part of THD’s annual Student Directed Series.

Born in 1978 Dominique Morisseau is the author of “The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle)” which includes the plays: “Skeleton Crew” (Atlantic Theater Company), “Paradise Blue” (Signature Theatre), and “Detroit ’67” (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT.) Morisseau is a TONY-nominated writer on the new Broadway musical “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations” (Imperial Theatre), and most recently served as co-producer on the Showtime series “Shameless.” Additional awards include: Spirit of Detroit Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-Cooper Prize, TEER Trailblazer Award, and a MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow.

Shutter Speed 1:1.

“SHUTTER SPEED: AN EVENING OF DANCE ON FILM”

April 30 – May 1, 2021 @ 7:30pm

Online via UB Center for the Arts YouTube 

UB Theatre and Dance’s “Shutter Speed: An Evening of Dance on Film” will feature original dance film premieres from a dozen choreographers, comprised of undergraduate students and MFA candidates, plus a new interdisciplinary collaboration with professional choreographer and department chair Anne Burnidge, poet Eli Clare, one of the 2020-21 UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholars, and a team of undergraduate and graduate students.

More than 60 UB dance majors and MFA candidates will be featured, with pieces ranging from a singular performer, to duets and larger group pieces, in multiple outdoor locations, and with different themes and contexts.  Dancers are upholding the highest safety precautions with respect to Covid -19. All dancers must be masked at all times and remain socially distanced. 

The program is under the direction of clinical assistant professor Jenna Del Monte Zavrel, MFA. The student choreographer / filmmakers include: Daniella Bertrand, Anna Caison Boyd, Jacqueline Cherry, Alexis Corletta, Maria Gionis, Melanie Kaisen, Meg Kirchhoff, Homeria Lubin, Karrigan Rotella, and Samantha Schmeer.

 “’Dance on Film’ has been a new genre for a while but it wasn’t being produced on the same scale as concert dance,” said Zavrel. “Covid has made it more of the default setting (for now), so students are learning the technology and thinking of new ways to share dance. The beautiful thing is you get to see intimate moments and nuances because of the lense that you wouldn’t necessarily see if you were in a proscenium theatre. You get to be with the camera and dancers as they’re moving. I’m thrilled that people are making more work specifically for the camera.”

The performances will be created via a lab-centered process where the choreographers meet weekly via Zoom to learn camera and editing techniques. Then they will rehearse with the dancers online before filming at each outdoor site. The choreographers must conceptualize and create every aspect of their work, including choreography, costuming, composing shot lists, storyboarding, directing the film, and editing the footage for the final piece which will be live-streamed on the UB Center for the Arts YouTube channel. “The students are wearing all the hats,” added Zavrel. “It’s a heavy lift, plus learning the technology at the same time. And on top of that (it) being winter and during Covid. That just speaks to the ambition of UB Dance students. They want to do it all.”

Filming at the end of winter is indeed a big issue, but Zavrel encourages her students to lean it. “Costuming will be affected by the weather. Students will work with the elements. Work in a coat, work with boots. Scarves and hats are a part of your vocabulary. Work with the elements instead of against them.”

Center in Motion 1:1.

“THE CENTER IN MOTION: A VIRTUAL DANCE CONCERT”

May 6, 2021 @ 7:30pm

May 7, 2021 @ 10am (Schools Performance)

May 7, 2021 @ 7:30pm 

Online via UB Center for the Arts YouTube 

UB Theatre and Dance will present a unique new dance project this spring titled “The Center in Motion: A Virtual Dance Concert,” featuring the talents of 60+ student choreographers, dancers, designers and technicians working in collaboration. The show is co-directed by THD clinical associate dance professor Kerry Ring, design technology theatre professor Lynne Koscielniak, and adjunct dance instructor and UB alumnus Michael Deeb Weaver. 

The persistence of Covid-19 has led to a unique opportunity to make creative use of multiple spaces within UB Center for the Arts, the department’s usual home venue. Whereas the Center’s Mainstage Theatre, Drama Theatre, and full-length skylight atrium would ordinarily be filled with patrons for live performances, they will now all be used as stages to film a multi-camera dance concert, embracing live streaming to facilitate continued creative output during the pandemic. 

“Due to Covid, multiple spaces which aren’t ordinarily available within the Center have gone unused, so we’re creating art, movement and design at a time when the public isn’t coming to the theatre,” said Ring. “We have a unique opportunity this semester to breathe new life into Center for the Arts, which is always as its most electric when there are dancers in motion within its walls,” added co-director Deeb Weaver.

A total of 18 designers and technicians will also collaborate on the production, a combination of BFA and BA undergraduate theatre design and technology students, alongside dance and design faculty, plus the professional theatre and video production staff at Center for the Arts. 

From a design and safety perspective, works are being created with strict social distancing foremost in mind. Multiple versions of reconfigurable translucent barrier scenery have been constructed to support various artistic visions and individual dance pieces of varying length within the same program. This allows small groups of dancers-no more than four at a time- to be onstage together, while completely separated by the vinyl barriers, which can be shaped and lit theatrically to add interest and dimensionality.

UB Dance’s academic emphasis on stylistic versatility means the show will offer the usual breadth of dance genres, with works ranging from rhythm tap, to contemporary ballet, modern and vogue. "The most interesting part of choreographing a new work for this concert is seeing how incredibly proficient our dancers have become at learning entire pieces remotely, via Zoom,” said Deeb Weaver. “Their ability to assimilate material under these circumstances is incredible, as is their attention to detail. I am amazed at the way each dancer is still able to showcase their own artistry, even in rehearsal as a square on a monitor!”

Faculty dance directors Ring and Deeb Weaver will create choreography for the program, along with first year MFA candidate Abby Cass, plus talented undergraduate dance majors, including: Stephanie Avila, Lyssie Hartzog Kyle Kershner, Ava Lovsin, Homeria Lubin, Mandy McLenigan, Ally Mersereau, and Kelsey Sullivan,. Under the mentorship of Koscielniak, new set, light, and projection designs are contributed and facilitated by undergraduate theatre design and technology students Eve Brunswick, Molly Crandall, Isabella Fortunato, Francisca Losada Hernandez, Sophie McGuire, Katja Rabus, Timothy Swenson, Nicholas J. Taboni, and Timothy “TJ” Wildow.

 

• • •

 

The spring 2021 season is a mix of ticketed performances on showtix4u.com and free performances (donations welcome) on the UB Center for the Arts YouTube channel. See each individual show listing above for platform information. 

 

TICKETS FOR THEATRE PERFORMANCES ON SHOWTIX4U.COM: 

https://www.showtix4u.com/events/18238

$6.00 General Public 
$4.00 Students / Seniors

$10.00 Group Viewing

 

ALL DANCE PERFORMANCES ON THE UB CENTER FOR THE ARTS YOUTUBE CHANNEL WILL BE FREE OF CHARGE ONLINE, WITH DONATIONS WELCOME:

For more info: www.ubcfa.org