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Redbud Theatre to reinvent stage performances for upcoming season

Texas Woman’s University’s theater program has announced its 2020-2021 season lineup. Everything from Broadway classics to socially distanced Shakespearian soliloquies, TWU’s Redbud Theatre has reimagined conventional on-stage performances to adhere to newly-enforced COVID-19 regulations.

“The faculty, staff, students, and I all feel very strongly that finding a way to create theatre, and perhaps even more importantly, create the community that is created by the live performing arts, is vital need right now,” professor and director of the TWU Theatre Program Patrick Bynane said. “We hope to produce four plays this year and we are looking at ways of doing that that will still allow for some kind of live community to be formed by the audience, actors, designers, and technicians.”

Their season kicks off on Oct. 14-18 with “CarPark Sonnets: A Live Drive-In Performance of Shakespearean Sonnets and Monologues,” an adaptation of several Shakespeare writings. Much like a drive-in movie theater, “CarPark Sonnets” will incorporate an FM radio transmitter, allowing the audience to enjoy the show from their cars. Nov. The theater will perform “Constellations,” a romance between a beekeeper and a cosmologist, Nov. 18-22, directed by assistant professor Noah Lelek. 

The spring season will begin with Sophocles’ defiant and tragic “Electra,” directed by TWU alumna Ariana Cook and featuring brand-new translations by the University of Dallas’ classical language professor Branden Kosch, which will run from Feb. 10-14, 2021. The season will close with Leonard Bernstein’s musical classic “On The Town,” directed by professor and director of the TWU Theatre Program Dr. Patrick Bynane. “On The Town” is a co-production between the theater program and the department of music, with performances being held in the Margo Jones Auditorium April 8-11.

Despite challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, some TWU students welcome the new theatre season. 

“I think it’s great that they are doing some socially-distanced shows,” freshman history major Claire Elise said. “It’ll provide some great practice for the actors and techies, as well as giving us the art we crave. I also really appreciate all the hard work of the cast and crew despite all the current challenges.”

Although many aspects of the theater program are changing, some will stay the same. Most of this season’s performances will be held at the Redbud Theatre, just northwest of Hubbard Hall as well as the Saturday 2 p.m. performances continuing to be “pay-what-you-can” showings. However, all pricing and venues are subject to change due to Coronavirus-related issues.

Constant changes because of the pandemic have seemed to become the “new normal” Bynane said.

“We were three weeks into rehearsals for our final play of the season,” Bynane said. “We left for spring break thinking that we would be only three weeks away from opening… And then just like that, it was gone. So getting the theatre back up and running, getting students active and participating and anticipating a new production has been exciting and hopeful.”

Catty Tomaszewski can be reached at ctomaszewski@twu.edu.

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