After last semester’s coronavirus-induced cancelations, Hillsdale College’s art, music, and theatre departments are set for a busy semester of performances.
Some performances, such as the theatre department’s production of the play “J.B.”, were postponed until this semester. The theatre department is therefore preparing for a busier than usual season, as it will stage “J.B.” beginning Jan. 20, in addition to the usual slate of shows.
“We’re just excited to be back and we’re excited to be doing performances again when so many places in the country are doing them at all, and we feel like we’ve had a good plan going forward,” said James Brandon, chairman of the theatre department.
According to Brandon, the department will still account for social distancing, at least for the beginning of the semester. These precautions may limit the live audience to 100 and require spacing throughout the theater. Overall, Brandon is hopeful that all the productions will be able to happen with minimal coronavirus restrictions.
“I’m optimistic but I’m not naive,” Brandon said. “We’re hoping that by the time we get to the musical at the end of February, that we can have a healthy live audience, and that we can start moving back to doing what we’ve done since the fourth century B.C. and have audiences watching our work live.”
The music department will be much busier than usual with all regular programming plus the choir and orchestra joint performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” the Big Band/Little Big Band Concert, and senior recitals all rolling over from last semester.
“We’re starting out cautious, but I’m hopeful that by spring break we’ll be able to start lifting some of the COVID precautions,” said James Holleman, head of the music department and director of the choirs and orchestra. “This time is about the seniors, and we want to finish as normally as possible for their sakes.”
Holleman said that the 14 day quarantine period last semester was the one of the most difficult factors in getting students ready for performances, and he is hopeful that the shorter seven to 10 day isolation period this semester will be easier to work with.
“The process is more important than the product,” Holleman said. “It’s better to prepare and not get to perform than not prepare or perform, because then at least we’re doing something.”
Dance professor Holly Hobbes, who directs the Tower Dancers, is combining some of the dances the team prepared for their canceled December show into their April showcase.
“We had to cancel our December concert, and we have dances that were made for that concert that we will incorporate into the April performance, but we’ll also be making new dances,” Hobbes said.
The Tower Dancers are holding auditions on Jan. 30 for those interested in performing in the April production.
“We’re really committed to performing in some capacity, whether it just be videoed or whatnot because we were unable to perform now twice,” Hobbes said. “We’ve missed out on two concerts. So I think the dancers and I are pretty committed to making sure we get to the stage in some way in April.”