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2020- 2021 Summer Production Season Update

Dear PAD Students and Faculty,

I trust you are all having a restful summer and doing your best to stay well and healthy.

I wanted to give everyone an update about PAD season planning in light of the COVID-19 situation.

Well, the season the production committee had hoped to produce in the pre-pandemic world has been cancelled.  We were hoping to announce Little Shop of Horrors, The Science of Leaving Omaha (a Carter Lewis commission), Fucking A by Suzan-Lori Parks, and You Don’t Live Here Anymore by Elizabeth K. Brown -- (the Hotchner Award winner).  I was mighty proud of this line-up, and it disheartened me to cancel it, but there are just too many variables and unknowns at play for us to imagine that this season could ever really come to pass.  

Still, we aim to produce a season, but we need a different kind of season. 

The old four play model securely scheduled with start and end dates simply cannot stand while the ground is shifting beneath our feet.  So, we have decided that our season will have multiple projects poised for production – and most of these will be shorter works (20-30 minutes) to keep us fluid on the rehearsal and production side of things.  

Some of these projects may get started and have to stop, and, if possible, restart later.  Some, depending on the circumstances, will move to on-line if that is the only option.  I think we should embrace this unpredictability because it is the truth of our situation.  When we officially announce our season, we will need to be up front about how these are projects that may or may not happen depending upon the unfolding situation in a time of pandemic.

Our season should be durable and ready to face a myriad of questions and unknowns. Questions like:

“What if the semester is shorter and we can’t rehearse like we used to?”
“What if there’s a flare up and we have to halt a production in process, or someone gets sick?”
“What if we can’t make work in our PAD spaces?”
“What if we’re only on-line?”

When we tried to imagine what belongs in our season, we used our questions and obstacles to lead us to projects we might develop.  We have concluded the following:

The projects we undertake will be smaller and require less time to rehearse and produce. 
The projects we undertake can go on pause or on line should it come to pass that we cannot rehearse together or someone becomes ill.
We are considering outdoor projects in our season. 
We aim to create radio plays, streaming projects and videos.

So, what are we currently planning?

The four directors scheduled for this season will still be directing – Ron Himes, Andrea Urice, Jackie Thompson and Bill Whitaker.  We may have other directors on board when the full season is determined.

We are producing the Hotchner New Play Festival as always.  How it functions is under construction and will be driven by protocols established by the university.  We would prefer to do it in a socially distanced manner on the Edison stage, but may take it outside if we must and can secure a venue.  More on this soon.  

We are also commissioning new writing from alumni playwrights.  We want to hear contemporary voices familiar with our community speaking about the challenges of this time.   Carter Lewis, Andrea Urice and Anna Pileggi have proposed that we reach out to a number of former students with established writing careers to help us develop some pieces we could produce live or recorded.  This is already underway.

There are other projects in the planning, such as an on campus outdoor musical theatre event directed by Ron Himes.  We are hoping to present this in a very exciting location, and I know Ron wants to make an event that addresses the current political moment we are all encountering.

As you can see, there are a number of things in motion already, but we wanted to reach out to the PAD community to seek out additional ideas or projects that might be worth considering.  If you have a project or play you would like the production committee to consider, please contact me.  

Students: If there’s something you think might be right for this unique time, contact me.  I’d love to talk to you.  Faculty: Perhaps there’s a project you have in mind that might be right for inclusion in a PAD season.  Please, let me know your thoughts.

We will discuss the play or project and how it might be suitable at this time.  Tell me about the nature of the casting needs.  It helps to know when you think the project can happen, and any information you might have about duration of rehearsals, ideal venues, directors, and production needs.  I will share your ideas with the production committee.

It would be helpful to hear from you by the 24th of July.  My email:  

Many thanks,
Bill Whitaker
Chair, Production Committee
9 July 2020


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