Frequently Asked Questions
WILL THE THEATER DEPARTMENT HOLD PRODUCTIONS THIS SPRING?
We are moving ahead on an exciting Spring season of department productions in a range of formats as well as senior thesis presentations for Spring 2021 grads. All public events will take place in accord with Washington State and King County guidelines, informed by the College’s Comprehensive Plan for Safe Return to Campus and Workplace.
Like everyone in our art form, we continue to be actively engaged in planning the shapes and styles that performances must take in the given circumstances in which we find ourselves. Directors are currently working with Theater and Performance Production students, staff, and faculty to explore a range of innovative ideas, including outdoor rehearsals, filmed sequences, and socially distanced staging; aural, radio-style performance highlighting the emotive power of the voice; and live-stream events using Zoom and other platforms. The Spring 2021 season will be broadcast throughout the term, expanding the range of audiences that can attend our productions.
What is the Spring 2021 Season?
The season was chosen by a committee of students, faculty, and staff from Theater and Performance Production. In addition to the productions developed in-house, the season includes a groundbreaking collaboration with the theater program at the University of Washington and Seattle University.
THE UNCHARTED WATERS PROJECT
Uncharted Waters is a collaborative project of Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle University Theatre Program, and the University of Washington School of Drama. We are uniting to present a mini-season of two shows:
- Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, directed by SU’s Rosa Joshi
- A new devised work co-directed by UW Drama alum Porscha Shaw and Cornish’s Sheila Daniels.
Both shows have been cast with undergraduates from all three schools. There are also opportunities for students to participate off-stage. Both productions will be rehearsed and performed fully online. The shows will live-stream in repertory March 11 – 14, 2021.
SPRING MUSICAL PROJECT: THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
Book by Bob Martin & Don McKellar; music & lyrics by Lisa Lambert & Greg Morrison
Directed by Richard Gray; music direction by Claire Marx
Here is what director Richard Gray has to say about the choice of this musical:
“The Drowsy Chaperone is a love letter to musical comedy – in particular, the light, escapist musical comedy of the 1920s-1930s. This was the time of Rodgers & Hart, George & Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Sissle & Blake, George Cohan – a time in musical theater history before Showboat and the integrated musical dramas of the 1940s. Written in 2005, The Drowsy Chaperone looks back at this era with a nostalgic, yet discerning eye (something I strive to do in my teaching of musical theater).
This show provides a great chance for Cornish actors and designers to focus on style. There is a rhythm and visual aesthetic to this material that will require a deft comic hand and a great sense of period flair. What is surprising about The Drowsy Chaperone is that it manages to send up the silliness of the genre while at the same time celebrating this specific type of entertainment. PLUS, it is really funny. After the year we have just had, we need to laugh. The character simply named “Man in Chair” says that musical theater should be ‘A little something to help you escape the dreary horrors of the real world.’ Sounds good to me.” – Richard Gray
Streaming in April
SPRING HEIGHTENED TEXT PROJECT: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
Written by William Shakespeare
Adapted and directed as an audio drama by Kate Myre.
Gossip and innuendo create havoc in a community intermingling civilians and soldiers who have just returned from a war. Romance blossoms in one place while a series of well-placed lies threatens to bring down a marriage and a family. Solutions come from the most unexpected places while the English language itself comes under comic assault. Director Kate Myre says about this approach to the play:
“I’m so grateful to be directing an audio production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing this spring, presented in 4 episodes (and bingeable in one sitting, if you prefer). This story strikes me as a very timely tale for the fact-challenged era we find ourselves in. I’m particularly eager to explore with the cast the power of how the voice expresses the deception (and self-deception) we hear in so many of the characters. What does say about the world of the play that even welcomed unions are brought about through impersonation and deceit? These tricks and disguises offer voice actors a particularly delicious challenge for vocal transformation.
We are living through the renaissance of audio broadcast, tuning in to the tune of 1,500,000 podcasts with 34 million episodes a year. Audio is thriving, and telling stories through sound, while not Theater with a capital T, it is the root of theater. The great British actor Mark Rylance recently said “In Shakespeare’s day, people said they went ‘to hear’ the plays. No one wrote ‘I saw Julius Caesar…They always say… I’m going to hear this play.’ It was an aural tradition.”
So in this production, we invite our audience to listen, and hear our play.
— Kate Myre
Episodes Released for Streaming in March and April 2021
SPRING ORIGINAL WORKS PROJECT
Written and directed by Theater students
Curated by Sheila Daniels and Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin
The Cornish Theater Department will present a New Works Festival in Spring 2021 showcasing playwriting and directing by 3rd and 4th year Original Works students.
After an open call for submissions for students who have taken playwriting and directing classes, the selection committee of faculty and staff reviewed script submissions from playwrights and letters of intent from directors. Three plays and three directors were selected. The plays and directors chosen to create these fully staged on-line productions are:
Wanderwoman by Sarah Daniels, directed by Carly Cipriano
The Smallest Wolves by Sam Finger, directed by Sam Vasquez
From Light Years Behind and Below Just Now Catching Up by Andrea Lowry, directed by Rowan Gallagher
Casting is open to all Theater majors, with auditions to take place in February. Should a play be selected that has specific needs in relation to race, gender identity, or ability and that identity is not represented in the casting pool, we will open those roles to people who fairly represent them. This process will be facilitated by Cornish Original Works and Acting Faculty.
Streaming in April
Musical Theater students taking Private Vocal Instruction will be invited to submit videos of performed songs, which will be curated by the Theater PVI faculty into a streaming cabaret.
Streaming in April
A range of SENIOR THESIS productions will be presented in online formats. (AND MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED)
What we consider “theatrical performance” has been rapidly evolving to adjust to our current circumstances. We want to enable students and faculty to develop new and vital skills to grow with it. We can be fast, nimble, and inventive. We are learning from what we accomplished this past fall as well as the approaches to production explored by our peer schools and the professional theater.
Rehearsals will be primarily online supplemented by in-person tutorials and small group meetings observing safety protocols and social distancing guidelines.
WHAT WILL CLASSES LOOK LIKE IN THE SPRING?
New Curriculum! This Spring we launched two newly accredited degrees, a BFA in Acting/Original Works and a BFA in Musical Theater. Each features new learning opportunities, such as:
- Additional On-Camera Acting courses
- Stage Combat classes open to students beginning in the second year
- In-depth Playwriting and Directing classes
- Intensive Devising coursework
- New Musical Theater Acting classes such as Scene to Song I (Golden Age styles) and Scene to Song II (contemporary and new musicals)
- Increased hours of dance and singing instruction
- A college-wide course in the second year in Professional Practices in the Arts
Courses will continue to be delivered in three basic formats: Online, Hybrid and In-Person. Online and Hybrid courses are designated as such on Compass; if there is no notation in the Course Description, the class is considered In-Person.
Examples of Online classes:
- All singing coursework will be online. That includes Private Vocal Instruction and group singing classes such as TH 144 Musical Theater Theory and Application and TH 220 Acting: Scene to Song I.
- Theater History
- Audition classes
Examples of Hybrid courses include:
- Voice and Speech
- Physical Technique and Yoga
In-person classes will work in small groups and tutorial models, supplemented by online content. Examples include:
- Improvisation and Devising
- Acting coursework
- Stage Combat
We are in close communication with our peer schools about best practices, as well as professional standards organizations like the Society of American Fight Directors.
More Student Choice! The new curriculum also provides more opportunities to take classes in other departments and, thus, across the visual and performing arts. You’ll see the fruits of that this Spring, as Theater students take classes in Music, Performance Production, and Film, while PP stage managers join Theater students in Stage Combat and Introduction to Directing.
Will courses be cancelled?
All classes that were scheduled for the Spring will take place: our goal is to facilitate the progress of each student on their path to graduation.
HOW WILL COURSES BE TAUGHT SAFELY WHILE MAINTAINING THE INTEGRITY OF THE CURRICULUM?
Cornish, like most other colleges in the state, has made a commitment to return to in-person education in some form this Spring. President Raymond Tymas-Jones has established ongoing Task Forces to address all facets of this complex undertaking. The safety of students, faculty, and staff will be our first consideration in all actions that we take. We will be guided by the CDC, Washington State, and King County guidelines, informed by the College’s Comprehensive Plan for Safe Return to Campus and Workplace.
We will be employing masks and other procedures as mandated by those guidelines until such time as the safety of our community can be guaranteed without them. (See the Health and Safety FAQ on the Cornish Website). Similarly, all classes will include online components, employing new instructional technology tools to support arts education.
- In-person instruction will happen in smaller groups. The schedule of classes is being revised to allow for that, and we’re reviewing all our creative spaces to determine their most effective and safest usage. For instance, the Cornish Playhouse will be used more as a teaching space.
- Online instruction will employ a variety of streaming platforms like Zoom, GoReact, and Panopto that provide much more flexibility for student-faculty interaction. The College will offer training for faculty and students to make the best use of these platforms, which are not only teaching tools but ways to expand the very definition of making theater.
Theater thrives on relationships: the conditions of the pandemic have created obstacles to physically intimate relationships, as well as the relationship between actor and audience. None of us can predict with accuracy how long those obstacles will be in place – but as we all know, as theater artists we don’t allow the obstacles to impede our progress – we use obstacles as a spur to develop new tactics to achieve our objectives. Intimacy can be created across distance – the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet is a powerful instance of that principle in action. Distance, masks, screens – the performer’s art is about transcending barriers.
WILL STUDENTS HAVE ACCESS TO CLASSROOMS FOR REHEARSALS?
Campus facilities will be open with students, faculty, and staff to support our educational activities. Anyone using college spaces will need to follow established guidelines for room signup, social distancing, mask-wearing, and sanitizing. You can sign up for available classroom space using our campus room reservation system – details will be coming soon. You can find out more in the college Access to Creative Spaces FAQ.
How will dance and movement classes operate?
Dance and movement-based classes will operate following the guidelines set out by the State of Washington. Students will work with the instructor in small groups for short periods within the designated class and lab times, determined by occupancy standards for each classroom space. This model will limit the duration of your exposure to any possible virus, allows time for cleaning the studios between classes and group meetings, and will ensure that each of you gets a significant amount of personalized feedback to help you continue to progress in the development of your skills.
Due to social distancing requirements and other federal and local health and safety guidelines we have been reviewing the scheduling of movement-based classes in order to prepare for a safe Spring. Overall, the goal is to ensure that students have access to small group technique classes, intensive faculty mentorship, and an opportunity for private practice seven days a week.
While our teachers can confidently devise ways for you to learn online, we also acknowledge that there are challenges, such as sufficient space where you live, and internet bandwidth, which can affect your ability to safely and effectively undertake movement and dance study in your own homes. Our goal is to ensure that all students have access to technique classes in a safe environment.
How will these changes affect the class schedule?
We constantly assess options for scheduling classes for health and safety while maintaining the integrity of the learning experience. When sections are added or re-formatted to support safe teaching and learning, your faculty are deeply involved in the planning.
All decisions about scheduling are intended to promote the health and well-being of the entire Cornish community – students,faculty and staff.
What equipment will students need to fully participate in classwork?
Each faculty member has developed a list of recommended equipment and learning conditions for their courses. The Theater Department has sent out a list of recommended supplies. If you did not receive it, please contact Department Coordinator Sam Vale at email@example.com.
Even for classes that will include in-person instruction, a laptop will be helpful. Other equipment can include a yoga mat, microphone (or cell phone mic), a ring light, and headphones.
If you would like to discuss incorporating the cost of a laptop purchase into your financial aid package, please be in contact with a member of the Financial Aid team. You can contact the FA team at firstname.lastname@example.org
What actions will the department take to support inclusive teaching and learning?
We believe that the Theater Department and the College should reflect and engage with the world in which we live and make our art. As such, we are committed to an inclusive teaching and learning environment.
The Cornish Theater Department believes that Black Lives Matter. We recognize and condemn the institutional racism that is functioning in our society that continues to allow oppression and violence against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and we acknowledge that systemic change is needed and immediate action is required.
We acknowledge that the Cornish Theater Department has contributed to systemic racism, and we are determined to remedy, repair, and rebuild from our mistakes. Both the institutions of higher education and theater have historically excluded People of Color, and engage in practices that continue to promote a racist society. We can no longer tolerate this as the status quo. As faculty and staff we commit to educating ourselves, and to changing our department.
Anti-racist education must be tangible through changes in curriculum, how we teach, and how we work with and support students.
To put this into action, we commit to creating a safe learning and creative environment for BIPOC students by:
- Taking part in ongoing Anti-Racist training that includes theater-specific work
- Decentering whiteness in our curriculum, our productions and our teaching materials through amplification of historically marginalized creators and scholars.
- Centering equity in all assessments of student progress
- Acting on the needs expressed by BIPOC students and colleagues.
- Identifying and addressing microaggressions by faculty and students.
- Expanding and updating the range of material used in classes in order to amplify the artistic and critical voices of BIPOC creators and scholars
- Prioritizing student engagement with BIPOC artists and educators
- Acknowledging the intersectionality of systems of bias, and committing to support and engage with LGBTQIA2S+, female, and gender non-conforming artists, educators and scholars
- Examining our past actions and committing to being transparent and public with our learning.