Northern Arizona University’s Department of Theatre announces this season’s slate of productions, with the intention of keeping those events mostly, if not entirely, online. The season, entitled Venture Into the Unknown, includes performances that will introduce patrons to new ideas and also bring them some classic stories.
“With the gathering sizes being so small, and really uncertain, it feels best to create an experience that we know we can deliver on with our students and faculty/staff artist educators,” said Department Chair Kathleen McGeever.
The first two shows will incorporate a variety of techniques such as puppetry and voice-over in order to allow students to maintain social distance while rehearsing and performing, a technique McGeever calls “COVID staging,” and will be livestreamed from the Clifford E. White Theater.
The first, taking place October 1-4, is East of the Sun, West of the Moon by award-winning playwright Tina Howe. This adaptation of a Norwegian folktale thrusts its main character into the bitter winter with a mysterious polar bear. The season continues November 5-8 with the classic whodunit comedy Clue by playwright Jonathan Lynn. Join the usual suspects: the Butler, Miss Scarlet, Professor Plum, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock and Colonel Mustard as they race to find out who killed Mr. Boddy.
The spring semester shows begin with a special adaptation of Fefu and Her Friends February 22-26. This production of Maria Irene Fornes’ play will be adapted for a special livestreamed performance. The show is a preconception-busting story of a group of women rehearsing for a charity event in a New England country home.
The season wraps up with a performance of Qui Nguyen’s She Kills Monsters. The play is a comedic romp into the world of fantasy role-playing games that takes people to a world of ogres, fairies, and pop culture. Performances will be either live or livestreamed in the Clifford E. White Theater.
“The shows we are doing might help us to laugh, escape, or take us down the path of other questions we need to ponder as we navigate this new reality,” said McGeever. “Theatre has survived pandemics, plagues and challenges over the thousands of years because it is essential – deep down.”
Showtimes for events live-streamed from the Clifford E. White theater will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday with a 2:00 p.m. show Saturday and Sunday. The online performance of Fefu and Her Friends will occur each night of its run at 7:30 p.m.
NAU Theatre also plans to continue other performances, including a festival of student acted and directed one-acts November 12-14, which will be livestreamed. The department will also hold its annual theatre expo, showcasing student research April 14-15. It will also host The Great Survival Debate on March 26, with minds from across campus debate the merits of their discipline in a world rebuilding after a disaster.