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Theatre & Dance in Challenging Times

Friday, April 3, 2020

We are all adjusting to teaching, learning, and working remotely in these rapidly evolving conditions. In the performing arts, where we particularly value individualized, face-to-face instruction and live human interaction, the isolation forced on us by the coronavirus pandemic is especially challenging. Our faculty and staff have been hard a work for the last two weeks to make sure that we can continue to be present for you as instructors, advisors, and mentors as we navigate the next several weeks.

We don’t yet know how long the current public health crisis will last, nor what long-term effects it will have on our society, our university, and our department. One thing we *are* sure of: when this moment passes, there will again be theatre and dance, and more than ever there will be a need for passionate, engaged artists.

Times of great change demand great art. The time of the Peloponnesian War was also the time of Euripides. The time of Queen Elizabeth was also the time of Shakespeare. The massive social and cultural upheaval of the 1920s and ‘30s was also the time of Langston Hughes, Frida Kahlo, Martha Graham, Stella Adler and Josephine Baker. And for our students, this time we’re living in now, this will be your time. The art that comes to define it will be your art. The ideas that propel our society forward will be your ideas. There has never been a more important time to be good at what we do.

This won’t be easy. Be patient with yourselves and with others, and please think of the Department as part of your support network in the days and weeks ahead. Though Murphy Hall and Robinson Center are closed until further notice, all our faculty/staff are working remotely and available to answer questions about access to online resources, enrollment and graduation, etc.

As you likely have heard via email from Markus Potter and Katherine Pryor or from your friends involved with the production, after serious deliberation a decision was made to cancel Urinetown and not bring it back in the fall. And yesterday University officials announced that May commencement has been postponed, with a new date TBA. The graduating class of 2020 deserves recognition and remains hopeful for a late summer or early fall graduation date. All of these difficult decisions, and many more, were made with the utmost care and concern for everyone's health and safety. 

Student support units remain available, including but not limited to Watkins Health Center, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and Student Money Management Services. They are available for remote consultation. For the latest information on how these and other KU offices are continuing to serve our community, please see coronavirus.ku.edu.

Finally, please remember that a public health emergency does not and should not interfere with our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are especially concerned that no one is unfairly disadvantaged by our shift to remote instruction. We are exploring options for how to reschedule our planned “town hall meetings” on the subject to an appropriate online format.

We expect to continue publishing our internal newsletter, the Call Sheet, on an every other week basis, and we will also be sharing information and announcements via email and social media. Stay in touch!

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