A Semester in Review: Fall 2020
Fall 2020 is a semester that will surely be remembered far into the future. It was the semester of uncertainty following a spring of uncertainty and well, a summer of uncertainty. But here’s what is for certain: no matter how challenging the circumstances of the world moment might be or how tall the barriers to doing business as usual are, the performing arts units at Illinois are finding a way forward.
After announcing the cancellation of all public, in-person performances for the semester, Krannert Center and its partners in dance, music, and theatre collectively joined forces to initiate new protocols such as steam cleaning theatre spaces between rehearsals, setting up physically distanced study spaces in the lobby, and employing Wellness Associates to staff building entrances. Like the entire campus, the Center needed to implement testing compliance—in some cases, that meant having casts and crews testing daily! And the circumstances also pushed the performing arts at Illinois faculty and staff to discover new platforms for providing content that included filming performance and developing methods to digitally deliver events to audiences. And of course, the performances themselves had to be reimagined with physical distancing, masks, COVID supervisors, and more. All the while, the Center’s operations, production, events, marketing, and advancement teams worked behind the scenes to support the academic units and to further Krannert Center’s ongoing public engagement work with a particular focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and anti-racism efforts and education.
Semester highlights include the extensive ADA upgrades happening behind the scenes in Foellinger Great Hall and the Tryon Festival Theatre; Krannert Center commissions from Step Afrika! (Stono), Somi (in the absence of things), and Manual Cinema (Christmas Carol); the first live, virtual performances of Dance at Illinois’ November Dance 2020 and the filmed version of Illinois Theatre’s Psh*tter; an engaging performance of Michi Wiancko’s To Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores with Jupiter String Quartet (a project that brought together NRES, iSEE, the School of Music, and the Center); the return of Dance for People with Parkinson’s; online dance classes with CLACS and La Casa Cultural Latina; and hip hop engagement work with Amirah Sackett and MR MiC. Krannert Center staff also supported the work of Lyric Theatre @ Illinois’ Lyric Under the Stars event at Allerton Park and came together with Lyric Theatre, Illinois Theatre, Dance at Illinois, and the School of Music for a special, digitally delivered Illinois Homecoming event to discuss just how powerfully this community of artists and their supporters have persevered through it all.
As the year closes, Krannert Center is deeply grateful for all those who continue to lend support to these endeavors, and everyone in the arts at Illinois looks forward to brighter days ahead with commissioning projects and upcoming productions already in the works to ensure the vibrancy of future programming.