An embarrassment of riches

Theater and dance events at the “U” provide students with a chance to explore a variety of themes.

by Greg Corradini

The advent of autumn always seems to provoke the urge for change. This fall, changes for the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance usher in a creative permanence for West Bank Arts Quarter.

The Regis Center for Art, introduced to campus this September, completes the arts quarter and signifies the beginning of a colossal year for arts at the University. The arts quarter affords art, theatre, dance and music students a common location and encourages collaboration between disciplines.

If culture is a progression of human diversity, then its survival depends on performers, spectators and teachers. That progress occurs through collaboration to challenge the known boundaries of performance and study. In this way, the departments of theatre arts and dance events become some of the many catalysts in the exciting academic year ahead.

This year’s events display an impressive range of ability and scope. The Xperimental Theatre has a commitment to offering students of all experience levels opportunities in the acting, writing and technical aspects of its yearly productions. Those who don’t participate, for example, in the staging of “No Exit” by Jean-Paul Sartre and “The Red Horse Animation” by Lee Breuer, will definitely have their interest piqued by viewing such richly philosophical works. One role of the Xperimental workshop is to provide student playwrights with a forum for their written work to generate feedback. This interaction not only determines the staging of new works in the following year, but also promotes education through participation. Xperimental Theatre’s first production, “Inspector Rex,” is one such piece. The play was extensively workshopped before becoming a full production this year.

The Mainstage lends itself to the titans of drama. The productions of “Peer Gynt,” “Macbeth” and “The Rocky Horror Show” can be sure to attract crowds of anti-hero lovers and sexed-up cultists. Adding to the excitement is the first graduating class of the Bachelor of Fine Arts Actor Training Program. Throughout the year, free presentations of the student projects will take place at Rarig Center and Guthrie Lab.

The dance program commences its season with the “Cowles Artist Informal Showings.” Doug Elkins brings his New York education of asphalt and street-smart strut to student dancers. Over the course of this semester, he and several other professional dancers will collaborate with students on new and restaged works. These works, combining techniques of jazz, contemporary and classical dance will be presented in December as part of the 73rd Mainstage season. Spectators can also expect the “Senior Show” and “Student Dance Concert” to showcase the exhaustive talent produced by the University’s dance program.

The theatre arts and dance department have also set up a guest lecture series. The series is comprised of two lectures each semester which deal with the intersections between transformation and performance. The two theater scholars speaking this semester are Alice Rayner from Stanford University and Stacy Wolf from the University of Texas-Austin.

Great communities are continually reconstructed without limitations. The best communities can transform their architecture into a living organism that interacts with the world outside of itself. The theatre arts and dance department promise such communication between spectators, performers and reality at large. They have the ability to incite interest while not deviating from their commitment to entertainment, education and questions that excite us.