Kenyon premieres ‘Cabaret-19,’ a digital theater experience

By Mary Keister
Date
Two students dressed as vaudeville rodents on a dark stage

GAMBIER, Ohio — Kenyon College students and faculty debut “Cabaret-19,” a digital theater experience examining life during COVID-19, at 8 p.m. ET Friday, Oct. 30. The production will be available for free on Vimeo, a video-streaming website

“Cabaret-19” marks Kenyon’s first mainstage production of the 2020–21 academic year. Conceived by Associate Professor of Drama Anton Dudley, “Cabaret-19” is a collection of interconnected short pieces that trace America’s experience with the coronavirus pandemic through song, dance, monologue and scene. 

“With ‘Cabaret-19,’ we can provide our students with the opportunity to not only participate in theater during a pandemic, but also to evolve their performing arts skills,” Dudley said. “When our students graduate, who knows what live theater will look like in a post-COVID world? We need to help them develop the ability to advance in a world where theater and video media collide in interesting ways.” 

The digital presentation includes works of film, live theater, dance and music to create its powerful and immediate response to current events. A number of top American writers contributed original work to the production, including Kristoffer Diaz, Lucas Hnath, Tina Howe, Rajiv Joseph and Lauren Yee, as well as 2004 Kenyon graduate Harrison David Rivers and James Michael Playwright-in-Residence and Professor of Drama Wendy MacLeod, a 1981 Kenyon graduate. 

The format of “Cabaret-19,” filmed and produced in advance of its Oct. 30 debut, enabled Kenyon students to contribute whether they were studying on campus or remotely this semester. (Around half of Kenyon students were invited to be in residence for the fall, with juniors and seniors studying remotely.) The production also enabled broader collaboration among the Departments of Music and Dance, Drama and Film, as its 27 pieces and nearly 40 character roles facilitated more opportunity for participation than would be possible with a traditional theater production.

“This year, we have witnessed the ways in which the pandemic has forced major theater groups to cancel their seasons,” Dudley said, “and with current public health protocols, it would have been difficult to host a traditional theater performance at Kenyon. We wanted to show how theater is not only possible in a pandemic, but that it can thrive.”

“Cabaret-19” is presented by the Kenyon College Dance, Drama and Cinema Club in conjunction with the Kenyon Social Board. To watch, visit kenyon.edu/cabaret-19.

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Right-click to download an image of the production poster: Link

Right-click to download an image from the production: Link.