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UNCSA finds innovative ways to perform in the time of COVID-19

UNCSA finds innovative ways to perform in the time of COVID-19


Last week UNC School of the Arts announced a fall performance season in one breath and canceled an anticipated online play in the next.

"Men On Boats," planned for three online performances, was expected to be livestreamed next weekend. That won't be happening because of technical issues with the new program they wanted to use to livestream it, according to UNCSA spokeswoman Lauren Whitaker.

However, the rest of the coming season, re-imagined to address limitations due to COVID-19, offers a range of events involving UNCSA’s five arts schools through innovative collaborations and inventive delivery of theater, music, film and dance.

Performances will be filmed for on-demand viewing as well as livestreamed. One socially distanced live program is also planned.

The school is trying to balance health and safety concerns and reflect the evolution of the performing arts industry as it faces the effects of COVID-19.

Highlights of the fall season include a radio play of Shakespeare’s “Henry V”; “The Windows Project,” a site-specific devised theater piece that will have audiences peering through windows at the characters within; an online screening of films that showcases the diverse and unique voices of student storytellers; the world premiere of a newly created production of “The Nutcracker” for film; and a range of livestreamed concerts from the School of Music, including several celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday, the UNCSA debut of Karen Ní Bhroin, its new associate conductor, and a string orchestra concert with alumna and Artpreneur Award recipient Jessica McJunkins.

“Like professional artists around the world, our students and faculty are pioneering what it means to perform in the new landscape created by the pandemic,” Chancellor Brian Cole said. “We are creating new ways to reach audiences with stories that examine our understanding of the past and illuminate our way forward.

"As Orson Welles said, ‘The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.’ As a community of artists operating in a unique creative ecosystem, UNCSA is proving that the performing arts can thrive, even in this time of great limitations.”

With the exception of “The Nutcracker Opening Night Gala”  ̶  which will raise funds to support student scholarships at UNCSA - all performances will be free of charge to thank UNCSA’s community of arts supporters.

The only in-person event on tap for now will be "The Windows Project" Oct. 28-31. Emmy-nominated School of Drama faculty member Andy Paris, a pioneer in devised theater, will direct an original site-specific work by students from the schools of Design and Production and Drama.

Addressing themes of isolation, privacy and mental health in a pressurized climate, the piece will be created entirely by the students and presented as a work-in-progress, allowing the audience to take part in the growth of the work. From outside a building, with safety precautions and distancing in place, audiences will get to know the characters by peering through the windows of their private spaces, while events of global proportions simmer outside, and decisions must be made which will affect their very survival. Location and details will be announced.

UNCSA Fall Season 

  • 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and Oct. 3: Sept. 26: "Beethoven for Three" – Black Mountain Trio; Oct. 3: "Yes, Also Beethoven" – Dmitri Vorobiev - UNCSA School of Music continues its celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, in partnership with “Beethoven Rocks WS,” with two concerts highlighting faculty. (livestreamed)
  • 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9: "An Evening at the Opera" – Fletcher Opera Institute - Fletcher Fellows perform scenes by Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, Gounod, Massenet, Mozart and Strauss, directed by Steven LaCosse, artistic director of A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute, with musical direction by James Allbritten and music preparation by Angela Vanstory Ward. (livestreamed)
  • 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10: UNCSA Debut of Karen Ní Bhroin - New Associate Conductor Karen Ní Bhroin makes her UNCSA debut in a concert featuring the Brandenburg Ensemble, Amadeus Players and Bartók Ensemble performing the music of George Walker, Belá Bartók, Edvard Grieg and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. (livestreamed)
  • 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16-18: Best of the School of Filmmaking - The nationally ranked School of Filmmaking presents a screening of student films from the 2019-2020 school year as a sampling of the diverse, high-caliber films produced by UNCSA student filmmakers. (on demand)
  • 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28-31: Location TBA. In-person, socially distanced event described above.
  • 7:30 p.m.: “Henry V” by William Shakespeare - School of Drama faculty member Sara Becker directs William Shakespeare’s most famous war play – about England’s victory over France at the Battle of Agincourt – as a radio play. (audio production, on demand)
  • 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17: UNCSA String Orchestra with alumna guest artist Jessica McJunkins - Violinist Jessica McJunkins (’09) is featured soloist with the Brandenburg Ensemble of UNCSA student-artists performing the music of Joseph Bologne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a French classical composer of African descent. Conducted by Karen Ní Bhroin. (livestreamed)
  • Dec. 12 and Dec. 17-25: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12: Opening Night Virtual Gala (livestreamed); 7:30 Dec. 17: World Premiere of “The Nutcracker” for film (livestreamed) Dec. 18-25 (on demand).

With the exception of “The Nutcracker Opening Night Gala," which will raise funds to support student scholarships at UNCSA, all performances will be free as a thank you to UNCSA’s community of arts supporters. Information about spring performances will be announced at a later date.




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