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Overview

Please browse the FAQs below for more information about what learning will look like in the Theater department this fall.

Don’t see the answer to your question? Contact the Theater Department or the Provost’s Office for more information.


 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the Theater Department hold productions this year?

We are moving ahead on our projected fall season of four plays and the fall musical theater cabaret. We also expect to support senior thesis presentations for Fall 2020 grads. All public events will take place in accord with Washington State and King County guidelines, informed by science and concern for safety.

Like everyone in our art form, we are 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 Fall 2020 season will be a festival to be broadcast at the end of the term, expanding the range of audience that can attend our productions.

What is the Fall 2020 Season? 

The season was chosen by a committee of students, faculty, and staff from Theater and Performance Production. It will rehearse both in-person and virtually, and be presented in December as part of the 2020 Cornish Streaming Theater Festival.

  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare, directed by Sheila Daniels (bringing to fruition the process from Spring 2020)
  • Stupid F***ing Bird – Sort of Adapted from Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, written by Aaron Posner and directed by Michael Place. A modern tragicomic spin on the Chekhov classic, in a production including both live-streamed and filmed performance
  • You on the Moors Now by Jaclyn Backhaus, directed by Kate Myre as a radio drama/podcast production.
  • “Club Cornish” a streaming cabaret featuring musical theater and neo-burlesque solo performances.
  • The Theory of Relativity by Neil Bertram and Brian Hill, and directed by Richard Gray. Both thematically and stylistically, it offers a terrific match for the possibilities and challenges of this moment.

UPDATE: We were unable to renegotiate the broadcast rights of the previously chosen musical The Rocky Horror Show. After reviewing the options from our search committee last semester, faculty and staff consensus was to proceed with The Theory of Relativity. Below are is a note from director Richard Gray:

Our approach to “The Theory of Relativity” will be directly rooted in our collective experience of the last 5 months. In a virtual world, how do we be our true selves? Do we even know who we are in a world that is (rightfully) questioning past paradigms? How do we connect to each other in a world where we feel more isolated than ever? And, ultimately, when this is all over, how do we rebuild and re-connect?

We will be both celebrating and commenting on the Zoom/virtual choir format. All of our group vocals (and some solos) will be audio recorded prior to filming. Our schedule will then mix choreography and guided virtual film sessions as the audio is mixed and ready.

In this era of masking up, speaking out, shutting down, opening up, needing help and reaching out, I believe this is a timely piece of musical theater.

“It’s Just a Jump to the Left…”


What we consider “theatrical performance” is 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 spring 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.

The excitement in our planning sessions has been palpable. Please feel free to ask more questions, and we will continue to send out our thoughts and ideas back to you.

Look for more information about schedule and auditions soon.

HOW WILL AUDITIONS AND CALLBACKS TAKE PLACE? 

The casting pool for Fall 2020 productions will be Third and Fourth Year Theater students. Auditions will be in late August as noted below. Virtual Callbacks will take place during the first week of school.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are unable to rehearse and perform in person you can still be considered for a role.

General Audition instructions.
Please review individual show requirements below and prepare audition submissions accordingly. Interested students should submit a video audition of no longer than 1 minute for any and all shows you would like to be considered for. Submit each of your videos to Producer Shawn Belyea. You may submit by email (sbelyea@cornish.edu) or by text (206) 851-9636. Please remember if you choose to send a link to a video that video must be available for download. All videos must be submitted by 5:00 PM PDT, August 24th, 2020.


Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Directed by Sheila Daniels
If you are interested in Macbeth please note that the core of the Spring 2019 company are staying with this project, and they are excited to welcome new artists into their world.  These are the roles that will be cast for Fall 2020:

Hecate (dbl)  – role will be femme or non-binary presenting
Lennox (dbl) – gender identity of the actor cast will be the gender identity of the character
Malcolm – role will be  male-presenting
Duncan (dbl) – role will be male-presenting
Angus (dbl) – role will be femme presenting
(dbl)- means the role will double with other small roles

Please note that even if a role will be “presenting” as a particular gender, an actor who identifies otherwise absolutely can audition.

To be considered for this show please submit a short Shakespeare speech (12 – 15 lines) of your own choosing OR choose from the following group of pieces from the play; Duncan, Hecate, Malcolm, or Lennox. (These are posted on the Compass>Departments> Theater Department Student page under Audition Info.)


Stupid F***ing Bird – Sort of Adapted from Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, by Aaron Posner
Directed by Michael Place
A tragicomic spin on the Chekhov classic, presented in a combination of live and filmed performance.

All other roles will present as the gender the playwright has written but casting is open across genders.

To be considered for this show please submit a contemporary monologue of less than one minute in length. (Can be the same monologue used for You On The Moors Now or different.)


You On The Moors Now by Jaclyn Backhaus
Directed by Kate Myre
Presented as a modern radio drama.

The character of Marmee must be played by a male-presenting performer; all other roles will present as the gender the playwright has written but casting is open across genders.

To be considered for this show please submit a contemporary monologue of less than one minute in length. (Can be the same monologue used for Stupid F***ing Bird or different.)


The Theory of Relativity by Neil Bartrum and Brian Hill
Directed and Choreographed by Rich Gray
Music Directed by Claire Marx
Presented as a a streaming production with a variety of virtual styles (virtual choir, music video)

Casting of all roles are open to casting to all genders.

To be considered for this show please submit 16 -32 bars of a contemporary musical theater song. 


SCRIPTS for review and other casting information can be found on Compass> Departments> Theater Department Students> Fall Season Scripts.

 

What will classes look like in the Fall?

NEW CURRICULUM: This fall we launch two revised model programs, in Acting/Original Works and 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 classes
  • Intensive devising classes
  • New MT Acting classes such as Scene to Song I (Golden Age styles)
  • Increased hours of dance and singing instruction

 

 

Courses will 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 155 Singing: Vocal Function and TH 157 Ensemble Singing.
  • Theater History
  • Playwriting
  • Audition classes

 

 

Examples of Hybrid courses include:

 

  • Clown
  • Embodied Voice
  • Directing

 

 

In-person classes will work in small groups and tutorial models, supplemented by online content. Examples include:

 

  • Improvisation and Collaboration
  • Acting coursework
  • Dance and Physical Technique 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, across the visual and performing arts. You’ll see the fruits of that this fall, as Theater students take classes in Music, Performance Production, and Film, while PP stage managers will join Theater students in Stage Combat.

Will courses be cancelled? 

All classes that were scheduled for the fall 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 fall. President Raymond Tymas-Jones has established Reopening 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 guidelines published by the CDC and the state of Washington.

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 theater artists we all know that 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. Details will be forthcoming.

What kind of planning has taken place? 

We have established collaborative teams to resolve questions related to teaching Physical Technique, Musical Theater, Original Works, Voice and Acting. For example: 

  • Vicki Watts, Chair of Dance, is part of the Physical Technique group, which allows us to strengthen ties with the Dance Department and its curriculum.
  • Theater and Music have been collaborating to develop best practices for teaching and presenting musical performance. All singing classes will need to take place online until it is safe to sing in a shared space, but our faculty have experience and expertise in that arena. In June, members of the Music and Theater voice faculty joined in a workshop on singing pedagogy led by Candice Pullom. 
  • In addition to teaching Private Vocal Instruction, Candice is also developing our new First Year musical theater TH 155 Singing: Vocal Function course. 
  • In partnership with the Music Department, entering Musical Theater students will take a foundational MU 101 Musicianship course which will include an introduction to music notation software. 
  • For TH111 Improv & Collaboration, Sheila Daniels is looking forward to using the longer class-time to weave together pathways between mindfulness, psycho-physical expressivity and to create generative work on a bi-weekly basis. She is also excited to introduce Naomi Iizuka’s Polaroid Stories as a lens through which to approach the actor’s relationship to text, targeting and given circumstances.
  • As the new teacher of TH 487 Directing, Sheila is crafting an approach to both in person and on-line modes geared towards explorations of creating dynamic relationships with actors and staging as a means to enrich subtext and metaphor.
  • Ellie Rose (formerly Ellen Boyle) will share the discoveries she has made over her sabbatical last year while leading the new TH 221 Embodied Voice class. Ellie has developed successful techniques for teaching mindfulness in online as well as in-person formats, and she is also looking forward to working with students on developing dynamic vocal techniques for heightened text. 
  • Kate Myre (TH 321) and Robin Lynn Smith (TH 311) have partnered to develop collaborative instruction around vocal and acting approaches to poetic language, using powerful texts from a range of writers. Students will experience skill development in levels, tempos and energy, breath, melody, rhythm, and caesura. 
  • Kate’s plans for TH 324 Voiceover include in person and online instruction. Voiceover as an art form is well suited to hybrid learning and online practice. Students explore a variety of copy including commercial and dramatic, games, and cartoons. We will continue to work with Jack Straw Studios for recording and microphone technique. 
  • Michael Place’s approach to teaching TH 301 Clown has been inspired by his recent training via Zoom with master clown teacher Chris Bayes.
  • Stage Combat instructor Geof Alm is working with the Society of American Fight Directors to develop new ways of teaching using online resources. He has participated as a student in two international forums, and taught Unarmed, Single Sword and Quarterstaff online. SAFD has opened all 8 fighting disciplines to online teaching. 
  • Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako joins us to teach TH 451 Audition Techniques and co-teach TH 453 Musical Theater Audition with Rich Gray. Nako’s wide-ranging career in classical and contemporary theater, musical theater, and television enables her to knowledgeably share a significant range of professional practices, including emerging practices for online auditioning. 
  • Rich Gray and Claire Marx are collaborating to develop a new format for TH 438 Musical Theater Cabaret, in which they will work with each student to create their individual cabaret, building a series of songs with a clear througline. Bills of cabaret solo performances will be broadcast to a wide audience at the end of the term. 
  • Theater History faculty member Chris Goodson has been working with a group of teachers from all departments to re-envision the histories of the arts.
  • We are pleased to welcome our new playwriting teacher, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, who joins us after a national search.
  • Desdemona Chiang rejoins the faculty this fall to teach TH 411 Advanced Acting Workshop alongside Professor Robin Lynn Smith. Desdemona, in addition to being an award-winning director,  has taught or co-taught TH 487 Directing Lab for a number of years.

This process also involves input from the Registrar and Provost offices, Creative Spaces & Event Services (CSES), Student Life and Housing, and our Operations staff, all of whom are working to determine how best to support the health AND safety of the community.

We want to make sure your questions and ideas are integrated into the design of the learning process, so the classes continue to provide the creative challenges and opportunities that will further your creative growth. Please reach out to Department Chair Richard E.T. White at retwhite@cornish.edu.

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 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 Fall. 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 svale@cornish.edu.

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 finaid@cornish.edu

What actions will the department take to support inclusive teaching and learning? 

We believe that the Theater Department, and the College, should reflect the world in which we live and make our art. As such, we are committed to review and change to better support 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.