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App State Department of Theatre and Dance Creates Virtual Slate of Fall Performances

MBM 2020 – “Between the Lines. Photo by Jen Guy Metcalf

Faced with the uncertainty of holding in-person performances during the fall, the Appalachian State University Department of Theatre and Dance has created its own virtual stage and a slate of seven unique performance opportunities for students.

By partnering with other organizations to develop new performances and selecting original work from other artists, faculty are offering a line-up that includes the timely COVID Chronicles monologues, a throw-back radio drama of Dracula with WASU-FM, a student dance showcase and an internationally curated dance film festival.

Michael Helms, Theatre and Dance department chair and professor

“I’ve been so impressed at the creativity of our faculty, and their determination to deliver a virtual season of new works and regional premieres to allow our students to hone their craft and perform during a time when our normal stages will be dark,” said Michael Helms, Theatre and Dance department chair and professor. “We look forward to a time when we can all return to a shared stage, but are proud that we’ve created a safe space and collaborative way to move forward this fall.”

The performances are scheduled between September and November and tickets will be available on the department’s website. In addition to WASU-FM, other co-collaborators are the American Dance Festival, AppTV, the Common Reading Program, the Climate Stories Collaborative and the Department of Communication.

“Performing arts lend themselves to collaboration,” said Helms, “They are ideal mediums for combining the collective wisdom, talents, and resources of each partner into a consolidated effort far greater than what any of us could have accomplished on our own. By offering these events online, we are able to provide our students with opportunities to perform while maintaining safe social distancing during COVID-19 and expand our audience to anyone who would like to ‘travel’ to Boone to experience one of our virtual performances.”


Here are the Fall 2020 productions:

The COVID Chronicles: Monologues Created During the Pandemic

Fresh, new, original works created and performed by Appalachian students

Directed by various theatre and dance faculty

September 18, October 2, 16, and 23 at 7 p.m.

Come see an exciting new theatre event inspired by the popular 24 Hour Plays productions in New York City. As the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic has brought an end to live theatre in the USA and Europe, we find ourselves facing stark challenges in our quest to keep the arts alive. The Theatre and Dance department’s response: unique and contemporary monologues sharing student responses to COVID-19 in dramatic fashion, creating acts of theatre that are vital, timely, moving, and irreverent, documenting an unprecedented moment in history. The COVID Chronicles will be performed on four different Friday evenings early in the fall semester, each evening a different collection of monologues!

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore

By Elizabeth Rush

Selected readings directed by Dr. Derek Davidson

October 3 at 7 p.m. and October 4 at 2 p.m.

Appalachian State University’s 2020-21 Common Reading Program selection this year is the 2019 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in General Nonfiction, hailed by the selection committee as, “a “rigorously reported story about American vulnerability to rising seas, particularly disenfranchised people with limited access to the tools of rebuilding.” The Department of Theatre and Dance, in collaboration with The Climate Stories Collaborative, will host selected readings from this affecting work with moving stories that lend themselves to powerful and timely theatre. Our students will interpret the stories Rush recorded of people from every corner of the country, all of whom are experiencing the dire consequences of rising sea levels and rising temperatures due to climate change.

American Dance Festival’s Movies by Movers                                                                 Directed and curated by Cara Hagan                                                                                            October 12 – 18, streamed on a continuous basis

ADF’s Movies by Movers, an annual, international film festival dedicated to the celebration of the conversation between the moving body and the camera returns! Online and free, the festival will be October 12-18, and features more than 80 short and feature-length films from around the world. Short films, touching features, and movies that will move you in multiple ways. Curator and Associate Dance professor Cara Hagan is coordinating an artist talk during the 2020 festival with details to be announced. For information and access the films, www.adfmbm2020.com.

Re/Imagining Performance: A Digital Collective                                                           Directed by Dr. Gina L. Grandi and Cara Hagan                                                               October 19 – 25 at 7 p.m.

The 2020 First Year Showcase features theatre and dance students collaborating to examine, discuss, and create around the following questions:

  • What is performance?
  • How do space and performance work together?
  • What is the relationship between our bodies and the spaces our bodies are in?
  • How do we humanize a digital space?

Students will curate a performance website that features digital, site specific performances, process documentation and discussion, and think pieces. We will create in our homes, on campus, alone, in small groups, and as a whole. Our circumstances will be one of the parameters that informs our process, where content and delivery become equal considerations. A live virtual event will mark the site’s premiere.

Dracula: A Radio Play

Adapted and directed by Derek Gagnier

October 30 – November 1 at times TBA

Relive the thrills of 1930s radio dramas as the Department of Theatre and Dance and the Department of Communication present a radio broadcast of “Dracula.” Based from the 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker, this new adaptation by Derek Gagnier will feature the vocal talents of Appalachian State University students. Recorded in the style of the “Mercury Theatre On The Air” shows from that era, this classic thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat and glued to your radio! The production will be broadcast on Appalachian’s student-run WASU radio station during Halloween weekend.

Dancing With Ourselves

Facilitated by Laurie Atkins and Chris Yon

November 5 – 7 at 7 p.m.

Dancing With Ourselves is a collaborative dance project made and performed on Zoom. “We don’t know about you, but we miss dancing with other people,” said Appalachian Dance faculty and performance facilitators Atkins and Yon. Thanks to technology, they plan to use the virtual background feature in Zoom for dancers to appear to be in close proximity, sharing the screen, and dancing with others.

Waiting for the Host: An Online Play

by Marc Palmieri

Directed by Dr. Paulette Marty

November 19 – 22 at 7 p.m.

The premise for “Waiting for the Host: An Online Play” is it’s April 2020 and COVID19 is raging through New York City.  A church pastor still wants to produce his church’s annual Easter passion play… online.  He gathers a cast of actors on Zoom to rehearse.  As they grapple with the various challenges of videoconferencing, isolation, and potential contagion, they also rediscover the enduring power of human connection. This production is the regional premiere of the work.


About the Department of Theatre and Dance                                                    

The Department of Theatre and Dance is one of seven departments housed in Appalachian’s College of Fine and Applied Arts. Its mission is to facilitate transformative experiences for students and the public, which cultivate compassionate, creative and collaborative communities through theatre and dance. The department also offers coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Its dynamic co-curricular production program provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region.