Announcing the 2023-24 KU Theatre & Dance Performance Season
The University of Kansas Department of Theatre & Dance has unveiled its 2023-24 performance season, which engages talent within the University Theatre, University Dance Company, School of Music, and Department of English, among others. Guest artists from professional theatre and dance companies will also contribute to the season’s offerings.
The season offers a diverse array of theatrical genres and dance forms featuring student performers. Select students will produce, choreograph, direct, design, dramaturg, and work the box office this season.
“It's a consistent emphasis on student-centered creativity and well-rounded development," said Markus Potter, artistic director and professor in the Department. “Our lineup has been carefully selected for its potential to captivate audiences, its pedagogical value, and its ability to foster a broad range of knowledge sharing to instill an appreciation for cultural and global diversity. At the same time, these productions, through the narratives they convey and the collaborative process they require, challenge our students to consider and uphold ethical integrity and social responsibility, an especially important step as they move toward their professional careers.”
Theatrical works will explore themes of social inequalities, belonging, and community. Humor and satire will unify several works. Audience members will have opportunities to witness improvisation, cheer on original student-created works, and participate in discussions and receptions.
“This year’s season offers lively and relevant takes on the way we live and work together in tumultuous times,” said Henry Bial, professor and chair of the Department. “We are grateful to our Friends of Theatre and Dance nonprofit organization, and to all the other members of our community who have continued to support our students, and we are excited to welcome audiences back to Murphy Hall as we mark the 100th anniversary of theatre education at KU.”
The fall season opener, Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties, dark comedy and provocative exploration of self-expression by Jen Silverman, will be directed by KU Theatre PhD student Marzi Ashrafian and will feature puppet design by KU alum, puppeteer and puppet fabricator Spencer Lott and by painter, sculptor, and illustrator Grace Townley. Together they operate Simple Mischief Studio, a company they founded. The University Dance Company Fall Concert will follow, taking on the theme of “mythos” and featuring ballet, hip hop, contemporary, and tap works by faculty members and guest choreographer Logan Pachciarz. He is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Moving Arts and previously performed with Twyla Tharp, Boston Ballet, and Kansas City Ballet. A repertoire concert of select senior dance majors work will comprise the Fall Senior Showcase. The fall will conclude with the new musical and comedic critique, Milking Christmas, which was composed by Ryan McCall, KU Lecturer and Accompanist, and written by Friend Dog Studios. KU Lecturer Michelle Miller will direct, with McCall as Musical Director.
The spring season will open with a vengeful narrative. The University Theatre’s production of the Tony Award-winning musical thriller Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler is staged in collaboration with the School of Music and KU Symphony Orchestra. Following the opera will be a gritty portrayal of working class struggles in SWEAT by two-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage. That drama will be directed by award-winning playwright Darren Canady, who is also Professor of English at KU. Then, the University Dance Company will present its Spring Concert featuring high-energy and exceptional work by faculty and select senior dance majors. The season culminates with the Jayhawk Performance Lab/Spring Senior Showcase, an initiative that underscores the Department’s commitment to student-driven work and fosters an environment where they can examine and question societal norms and grow as creators. The season finale also celebrates diverse dance forms and narratives.
Individual tickets and season subscriptions are available for purchase on the Patron webpage, by calling 785-864-3982, or in person at the box office in Murphy Hall, Monday-Friday noon-5pm starting Aug. 23. KU Theatre & Dance offers discounted tickets for KU faculty, staff, students, and retirees, as well as groups. The Jack B. and Judy L. Wright Student Ticket Endowment is a resource for KU and Haskell students needing assistance attending shows. Contact Jim Dick, Managing Director, at 785-864-3985.
KU Theatre & Dance Calendar:
• Oct. 6, 7, 8*, 10, 11, 12, 2023 – Collective Rage, William Inge Memorial Theatre
• Nov. 3, 4, 5*, 2023 – University Dance Company Fall Concert, Crafton Preyer-Theatre
• Nov. 18, 19, 2023 – Fall Senior Showcase, Elizabeth Sherbon Blackbox Theatre
• Nov. 30, Dec. 2*, 2, 3, 4, 6, 2023 – Milking Christmas, William Inge Memorial Theatre
• Feb. 16, 18*, 20, 22, 2024 – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Crafton Preyer-Theatre
• March 22, 23, 24*, 26, 27, 28, 2024 – SWEAT, William Inge Memorial Theatre
• April 5, 6, 7*, 2024 – University Dance Company Spring Concert, Crafton Preyer-Theatre
• April 25, 26, 27, 28*, 2024 – Jayhawk Performance Lab/Spring Dance Showcase, Elizabeth Sherbon Blackbox Theatre
Showtimes: 7:30pm, *2:30pm matinee. All dates subject to change.
The University Theatre and University Dance Company are production wings of the University of Kansas’s Department of Theatre & Dance, offering six public productions throughout the academic year. The University Theatre and University Dance Company productions are funded in part by KU Student Senate, and the theatre’s season is supported by Truity Credit Union. For more information on the theatrical performances of the Department, visit the University Theatre website. For more information on the dance concerts, visit the University Dance Company website.
The Department of Theatre & Dance is one of three departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.