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UCM Theatre and Dance Makes Safety Priority During Fall Productions

By Alex Wilson, October 12, 2020

Iconic Dance PerformanceUCM Sophomore Rachel Curry dances in the production "Iconic" on Kennedy Field at Audrey J. Walton Stadium. Photo by Molly Ross, courtesy of UCM Theatre and Dance.

WARRENSBURG, MO – As the old adage goes, “the show must go on.” While the pandemic may necessitate adjustments for social distancing, and efforts to provide the safest experience possible, the University of Central Missouri Theatre and Dance is continuing to perform throughout the fall 2020 season. A limited number of productions have already taken place and more will be hosted throughout the fall semester.

Among those recent productions, Sept. 17-19, UCM Theatre and Dance hosted the outdoor production of the play “Red,” at West Field, UCM Track and Field’s practice location. According to Tony Smith, honors senior theatre performance major and student director of “Red,” the play was a success, almost selling out the first two nights of the performance and receiving positive reviews from those who attended the show. According to Smith, the directorial process had to be re-hauled to accommodate COVID-19 protocols.

“It is very eye-opening, especially at this time trying to figure out different ways that you can put on a show. It is definitely a lot of trial and error, making sure that your number one priority outside of telling the story of the play is to keep everybody safe. I know part of my safety protocols was to limit the number of individuals present at rehearsal to four and those were the only essential members of the production team that needed to be there.”

According to Smith, social distancing and mask protocols were also maintained off-stage, for the production team and as well as for audiences. After the production, many audience members reacted positively to seeing a live production again, while commenting on feeling safe throughout the entire performance.
For “Iconic,” UCM Theatre and Dance’s most recent production, similar rules are being applied for the play, including the use of an outdoor venue.

“We have a couple of outdoor shows in the fall when the weather is warmer. We had to scale back some of our plans because of COVID-19,” said Kathleen Leicht, interim head of Theatre and Dance. “Mask protocols are in place in [our facilities] and our workshops. Even behind the scenes, students have to be conscious of how they work together to build sets or construct costumes.”

“Iconic” is currently being presented at the Audrey J. Walton Stadium. The production opened Oct. 8 but will also be taking place on Oct. 10-11.
The performance is taking place on the field with live dancers and for added safety, student singers are played back through projection. Audio and video of the singers were taken with assistance from Digital Media Production Professor Joe Moore and co-chair of the School of Visual and Performing Arts and head of the music department Eric Honour.

“It's not the type of event people are used to seeing on a football field,” said Ashley Miller-Scully, professor of theatre and dance and director of “Iconic,” commenting prior to the production. “The turf is a really great surface to dance on. Everyone on campus has been very accommodating and have been really trying to help us make this happen. For us to get the football field was a dream because we can social distance everyone safely and have all the lights and power and sound and have a great surface to dance on. It has really worked out for the best.”

“Iconic” was originally scheduled to premiere last spring but was pushed back to this fall due to COVID-19. Despite the unforeseen challenge, the spirit and soul of the production remain the same. Miller-Scully and her team have been able to circumvent many logistical challenges getting ready for the show.

“We had to recast some places because of people who had graduated or couldn’t return. We kind of started from scratch again this fall but it has been great and it has been fun,” Miller-Scully said, “Watching how much the cast and crew have grown from the first day of rehearsal to the performance is my favorite thing about this production. I'm so proud of our students and what we have overcome to get to this moment.”

More performances will take place throughout the remainder of the fall semester. The play “Tilikum” by Kristiana Rae Colón, featuring writing, directing and dramaturgy by guest artists, will be virtually broadcast Oct. 29- 30. Studio productions, a series of short plays directed, designed and produced by UCM students, also will be broadcast virtually Nov. 12-14. The Richard Herman Black Box Program will also present performances throughout the semester.

The spring 2021 season will include “Sucia: A Cinderella Story for the Real World” by Nicole Jost, “In the End” by Sharai Bohannon, studio productions, the UCM Theatre and Dance New Play Festival and “Spotlight!”

For more information about the show, or to purchase tickets, visit our Theatre and Dance web page. Shows for the spring 2021 season will be formally announced in the future.


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