This year PAD has planned an ambitious slate of dance and drama events to stage within pandemic conditions. We have a mix of zoom-only events, small-scale filmed original dance and dramatic productions, and a mobile pageant-wagon project based on Medieval outdoor spectacles in development for spring. We are excited about all the opportunities for creative problem solving and creative expression that this will give our students. We're staging a great deal of original plays written by students and former students, so this year, even more than most, our students are the creative engine of our season.
We've decided that, given the unusual performance conditions, we will let our tickets be free to students (as they always are) and let families and community members pay what they can. All the money we take in goes right into producing next year's season, so it's important to generate ticket revenue. But most of all we just hope for big audiences for the students and faculty who have put so much into each event.
A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival 2020
Live streamed October 16 & 17, 2020
Cheryl Robs a Bank:
An Evening of Dramatic Entertainment Presented in Play Form by Cheryl Pryor
Friday, October 16th at 7pm
Written by Holly Gabelmann
Directed by Bill Whitaker
Dramaturg, Michele Volansky
A bank-teller named Cheryl micromanages a situation between a thief, a killer-on-the-run
and a sick pig named Olive. In this hilarious and dangerous telling, Cheryl finds herself
trapped in the small slippery space between reliving and reimagining, as her story
ricochets between what is happening now, what happened then, and what may never have
happened at all.
Women Eating Cake (*a ten-minute play)
Saturday, October 17th at 2pm
Written by Elizabeth Phelan
Directed by Andrea Urice
Three women eating cake discuss truth, friendship, and having a hook for a hand, as they pose the question: is it better to be yourself, or keep yourself away from yourself?
The Five-Year Reunion
Saturday, October 17th at 2pm (*immediately following ten-minute play)
Written by Ike Butler
Directed by Henry Schvey
Dramaturg, Michele Volansky
Twenty-three year-old Dawn is ready to leave the past behind her and finally do something with her life, but she's not sure how. She lives with her mom, just got fired, has no aspirations, is still hooking up with the same weirdo from high school, and she doesn't even know how to make tea. It's the absolute worst possible timing for her five-year high school reunion.
Saturday, October 17th at 7pm
Written by Sophie Tegenu
Directed by Paige McGinley
Dramaturg, Quinn D. Eli
In a modern day re-contextualization of The Great Gatsby, Grand sharply unravels the American Dream through the journey of a young Black woman banker who dreams of being a painter, and an older iconic actress who hosts wild parties, does not attend them, and nostalgically dreams of a certain lily-white boy.
Produced by Carter W. Lewis
On-Line Producer: Tom Shotkin
Festival Assistant: Abby Smyth
Remember...That Time Before the Last Time (World Premiere)
This production premiered on December 11, 2020 and was available on-demand thru January 3, 2021.
Conceived and Directed by Ron Himes
Choreographed by Heather Beal
Developed by The Company
Remember is an exploration of the effects of race, social injustice and the traumatic impact of slavery on the creative impulses of a people/artists through spoken word, music and dance from the diaspora. Our lens focuses on survival from 1619 to 2020.
Washington University Dance Theatre 2020: Aperture
This "Dance for Camera" Film Festival Premiered December 18, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. and Streamed On-demand thru January 3, 2021.
An “aperture" is defined as “the space through which light enters a camera” and “an opening, hole or gap…” In the time of COVID, we will not be able to perform dance in theaters for live audiences, and this feels like a big loss. But for artists, challenging times also create openings in which we adapt and respond creatively to try something new, in the “gap.” This is the lens through which we let our light shine. For the first time, Washington University Dance Theatre will be presented as a “Dance for Camera” film festival of new works by resident choreographers, performed by student dancers of the Performing Arts Department.
Dates: On-Going -- Fall through Spring and into Summer
Location: On Line All the Time – PAD Web Page
“The Virtual Platform” is not a play or a dance, but a digital space for creativity and experimentation. This year, the Performing Arts Department is proud to include in our season this virtual venue for radio plays, dances, independent pieces, solo work and movement projects. Think of it as a place where performances can push theatrical boundaries, or as a home for just having some simple fun. We are already in development on two projects:
by Shaelee Comettant (Fine Arts/ Junior) -- A remarkable mix of radio play and performance art, Focus is about sound and silence, stillness and movement. A student struggles to follow a lecture, contending with distractions, thoughts, emotions, and the overstimulation that comes with trying to drown out the rest of the world. There's a kind of mystery about the light, sound, repetition, and geography of Focus, that leaves us wondering can there ever be, just a moment of silence? Will things ever come into focus? (Dates TBD)
Songs You’d Never Sing –
Musical Direction by Henry Palkes
This is the PAD’s riff on the popular celebrity gala, Miscast. Many have dreamt of singing songs from musicals that no one would ever cast them in, but with this show, such dreams come true. Songs You’d Never Sing offers bold permissions for simply having some fun. It can be campy and outrageous at times, but it may also be downright beautiful and astonishing, especially when the chemistry between singer and song proves to be perfect. Perhaps you have a song like this in you? (Spring 2021 -- Online and on the PADdee+ Wagon – Dates TBD!)
***Contact Bill Whitaker at email@example.com if you are interested in developing work for “The Virtual Platform”
MFA Student Dance Concert
Premiering Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. and available on-demand thru Sunday, April 11, 2021.
The Saturday night event presents Pathway and takes us on a journey combining three distinct paths. One moves us through the world of grief, the powerful rollercoaster of human emotions. The next takes us on the passage of both the power and grace of Muslim women. In the final piece, we are immersed in the force of our neglect of Nature and her rebellious response.
The concert speaks to the human spirit at its best and worst, through grief and grace. It’s sure to be an evening of moving images, sharp contrasts, and evocative performances. This concert represents the completion of the MFA in Dance requirements for our fourth cohort students: Leah Robertson, Luewilla Smith-Barnett and Thomas Proctor.
Please Note: The MFA Dance Concert:"Mindscapes" featuring the work of the 2020 MFA Cohort which had been rescheduled for this Spring due to COVID has been cancelled.
The PAD Mobile Stage
Coming Spring 2021!
Locations: Danforth and South Forty Campus
One-part medieval pageant wagon, another part theatrical RV. If being indoors is a limitation to performing safely, why not step outside and deliver the drama in fresh clean air? That is exactly what we are doing in creating this intrepid mobile stage.
The PAD Wagon, designed by Robert Morgan, will allow us to bring all kinds of theatre directly to our audiences. Imagine our wagon simply arriving on the Forty or up on Mudd Field, claiming a space, folding open her stage, and “delivering” a show. The PAD Wagon has speakers, modest lighting, and two levels of playing space and other outdoor surprises. We aim to do some wonderful things on this machine, and we hope other student performing groups will take her for a test drive too.
The Covid Mysteries
April 1-4, 2021
Locations: Outdoors -On the PAD Mobile Stage - Points All Around Campus
Adaptation and Direction by Robert Henke and Bill Whitaker
The first “official” performance on the PAD Mobile Stage will be The Covid Mysteries. After a year in a pandemic, perhaps you have some questions for God? Well, here’s some great news: God is in this show! Seriously, just in time for Passover and Easter, God is ready to answer your questions and tell a lively tale or two. All your favorites are here -- Abraham, Jesus, Mary, and, yes, even Joseph, that trusting guy! They will be spinning yarns about Creation, Passion and Judgment. Satan signed on too, and after all these years, he’s still a bundle of sass and trouble. The Covid Mysteries are inspired by the 14th Century York Cycle plays and have been irreverently adapted for 2021. Be there when they roll your way!
Homecoming Voices – Alum Commissions
Premiering Friday, April 9 at 7pm
Available On-demand thru Sunday, April 25, 2021.
Homecoming Voices: Four PAD alumni were commissioned to write plays for our season. Each playwright was limited to writing one 15-25-minute piece with a cast of at least 2 but no more than 4 actors. Writers were free to write what they wanted, but each was deeply aware of the extraordinary social and pandemic moment we share. All have been provided a short list of scenic elements they could employ -- things like a pillar, a road blockade, some stairs. Writers could use all, some, or none of the items. These limitations kept the production demands lean and agile. The playwrights are: Nastaran Amahdi ('00), Marisa Wegrzyn ('03), Chauncy Thomas ('06) and Liza Birkenmeier ('08); all have developed thriving careers in theatre and television, and we look forward to hearing their voices again on campus.
Andrea Urice, Directing:
by Nastaran Ahmadi
He left. She stayed. Now, he’s back, standing in front of what used to be their mother’s house, hoping to reconnect with his sister. Can all the shared experiences, humor and family connections transcend the betrayal?
by Marisa Wegrzyn
Okay, so we may be having some roommate troubles. And maybe one of us threw a cereal bowl at somebody’s head. But there’s this pandemic thing happening, not to mention raging wildfires, and none of us has a job right now so the tension may be a little high. But really, what’s the problem?
Jacqueline Thompson, Directing:
Fear is a Gift
by Liza Birkenmeier
A haunted bike tour becomes accidentally experimental when one of the guides is injured. No one feels in control. Fear is a Gift is a theoretical labyrinth of horror and thrill.
The Nicest White People that America Has Ever Produced
by Chauncy Thomas
A black writer and a white director discuss the intersectionality of artistic integrity, power, and race in the film industry. However, a surprising request shifts the theoretical discourse to a striking reality of questionable ethics, tested friendships, and uncertain costs.
Location: Conditions permitting, we hope to be on the Edison before a live, socially distanced audience. Also, performances will be concurrently streamed live to those not attending in person.
April 22-25, 2021
Locations: Outdoors -- Green Spaces All Around Campus – Site Specific
Written by George F. Walker
Direction: Bill Whitaker
Bobby and Tina meet in a park. She’s furious about something and cursing her head off, and her friend Jill is there too for “support.” Jill has never liked a thing about Bobby, ever, and both women threaten to “kick him to death.” Meanwhile, Bobby has been thinking about breaking up because he’s been looking around at other girls and he thinks “they look nice too.” Bobby may have picked the worse time ever to discuss a break up, as Tina and Jill have some really tough news to deliver. The context is young people in dire straits with limited economic and intellectual opportunities trying to make their way. Tough! is a kind of contemporary tragi-comedy of the streets written by Canada’s most celebrated playwright. In late April, you might see three young people on campus arguing beneath a tree or in the middle of a field as you pass on by. It might be Bobby, Tina and Jill trying to sort things out. It’s OK for you to stop and listen.
Washington University Dance Collective: Supper
Premiering Friday, April 30, 2021
Available On-demand thru Sunday, May 16, 2021
Artistic Direction: Cecil Slaughter
Washington University Dance Collective serves as the Performing Arts Department’s resident dance company. WUDC is a unique blending of talented and expressive movers from very diverse backgrounds who bring with them a wide range of movement styles and performance acumen.