In a typical spring, the CU Boulder campus would be bustling with preparation for the opening night of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, which was set for June 6, 2020. In the face of COVID-19, however, the festival and all other in-person musical and theatrical performances on campus have been postponed until further notice.
But the show must go on.
CU Presents, which represents many performing arts units—including the College of Music, Department of Theater & Dance, and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival—has created a way to keep its performers and audiences connected from a socially safe distance.
“In normal times, we’d be running shows year-round,” said Laima Haley, marketing and PR director for CU Presents. “We thought: How can we create a space where people can still come and enjoy performances?”
CU Presents Digital invites audiences to watch, listen and gather with the campus performing arts community online. Each week, a mix of old and newly recorded performances will be posted on the platform—most never before available to the public. Videos include everything from Beethoven sonatas on piano and this spring’s theater and dance senior showcase, to educational Shakespeare programs for children and adults alike.
The new platform has only been available for a few weeks but already includes all kinds of novel content.
Eleven students pursuing Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in acting recently came together to perform a radio drama version of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”—using only their voices. Rehearsed in only four weeks, the performance was the first of its kind for the Department of Theatre & Dance.
To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the College of Music brought together the campus community remotely to celebrate the end of the 2020 spring semester and, as a marching band, performed the Alma Mater online.
Their goals are twofold, according to Haley: to provide an outlet for students and faculty who would normally be able to perform and promote their work in person; and to stay connected with local communities and broader audiences, who normally would enjoy attending these events on campus.
“It’s been inspiring to watch so much creativity arise out of our community,” said Haley. “While the near future of performing arts is not known in Colorado, there’s always going to be a future for this kind of digital engagement.”