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BA Theatre Arts Season Selection Committee Mid-Semester Report

November 11, 2020

Season Selection Committee

Season Selection Committee
'The Skriker' (2020) Photo by Dan Norman.
About the Season Selection Committee: 

The Season Selection Committee is a group of faculty, students and staff that curates production seasons to enliven the intersections between the BA, MFA and MA/PhD programs of study. They are responsible for selecting the productions - mainstage productions, hybrid productions, and creative collaborations - for the BA Theatre Arts production season. The 2021 Committee is made up of BA Theatre Arts and MA/PhD faculty, staff, and student representatives.

Mid-Semester Report from the Season Selection Committe:

Released November 11, 2020

The Season Selection committee has been meeting bi-weekly since early September, 2020. Made up of students and faculty across the BA Theater program and guided by a cross-programmatic Executive team who crafts meeting agendas, we have been addressing three major tasks: 

  1. By-Laws: We have begun drafting by-laws which we hope to share a draft of by January, 2021, for departmental feedback. These by-laws help us structure what we do and how we do them as a committee. They ground the mission of the committee and its representation, ensuring that there are clear boundaries around what we do (select season) and don’t do (oversee the production of a season). We are also working to ensure more diverse and equitable representation across the student body and faculty. 
  2. Addressing Student Concerns: Representation has been in question. Students have brought concerns to faculty on the committee about which stories we tell and how -particularly addressing BIPOC students. We’ve also reflected on intersectionality and how disabilities of all kinds raise questions about what bodies represent which stories. These conversations are vital and ongoing. We have met with Chair Matthew LeFebvre to discern which concerns are best addressed within the Season Selection Committee and which might be addressed departmentally. Several other departmental spaces including the Hub (a gathering space to launch Jubilee-related programming), TAD Diversity and Equity Committee, student Peers and Reps, and Doug Scholz-Carlson’s student-led drafting of rehearsal guidelines contribute to these ongoing conversations and actions. 
  3. Season Selection: Student concerns--as well as needs and desires--impact what and how we select our season. We began the season by considering who was in the room and what they brought. We shared our individual stakes in being on the committee and what we hoped we might accomplish as representatives of various constituencies in the department. We then reflected how our past season (2019/20) did or didn’t address our mission and values as a department. We asked a range of questions such as: Did this production start a conversation? Allow designers to work historically? Imagine worlds not our own? Invite storytelling that includes a diversity of bodies and experiences? (See Appendix below for full list of questions) 
    • We try to also curate a season across four year arcs that includes a range of genres such as heightened language, comedy, or contemporary musicals. This year, we also considered our Jubilee Season focus expanding who and how stories are told dramatically, leaning into our “growing edge.” 

    • In mid-October, 2020, we translated these reflective conversations into future-oriented frameworks inviting proposals from the department as a whole. We will spend the next month or so reviewing submissions to propose a season that reflects our values, goals, and departmental needs with attention to mission, performers, designers, technicians and histories. Before proposing the final season, will reach out to departmental constituencies for feedback on submitted scripts. 

  4. Communications: Recognizing that improving communication to the department is a major goal, we are working on crafting summaries of our bi-weekly meetings to post in an easily accessible departmental location.
Committee Members: 

Executive Leadership Team 

  • Lisa Channer (BA Performance)
  • Sonja Kuftinec (History/Lit)
  • Chelsea Warren (Design/Tech)
  • Talvin Wilks (BA Performance/Dramaturgy)

Student Representatives

  • Ani Mosity (Design/Tech MFA) 
  • Kimberly Lawler (Design/Tech MFA)
  • Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha (MA/PHD)
  • Kyra Rahn (BA Performance Peer) 
  • Rachel Brees (Design/Tech Peer) 
  • John Patterson (BA Rep) 
  • Josh Koser (BA Rep) 
  • Alexa Lewis (BA Rep)     
  • Jacob Badovski (BA Rep)
  • David Michaeli (BA Rep)

Faculty Representatives

  • Christine Swartwout (Design/Tech) 
  • Jason Allyn-Schwerin (Design/Tech) 
Appendix: Reflection Questions on Season
  • Did the season align with the BA Values?
  • Did we do at least one project that started a conversation?
  • Did we do at least one project that animates a world that is not our own?
  • Did we do a project that allowed/ forced students to illuminate or visit a different historical period?
  • Did we provide enough roles for student actors?
  • Did we provide enough opportunities for student designers (grad and undergrad)?
  • Did we provide at least one opportunity to devise a new piece?
  • How did we do on the Body/Matters discussion/ goals of diverse and inclusive seasons and collaborator POVS (Playwrights, Directors, Designers)?
  • Did we offer opportunities to work on a range of styles?