On Friday at 8 p.m., Kenyon’s Department of Dance, Drama, and Film will release its digital theater production, Cabaret-19, on Vimeo. The production is composed of various monologues, short plays, dance pieces and musical numbers all related to COVID-19 and other current events. Cabaret-19 has around 50 students involved in the production and an impressive roster of professional writers on the project, including Tony Award nominee Lucas Hnath.
In order to recreate the experience of watching a show as a community, the Kenyon College Dance, Drama & Cinema Club will host in-person viewing parties in various locations across campus on Friday. Additionally, the Social Board will be providing grab-and-go snack bags for people to enjoy while viewing the premiere.
The cast and crew of Cabaret-19 will watch the production’s premiere together in the Bolton Theater. “Even though they will not get a live performance experience … viewing the premiere together still provides that community aspect of theater,” said Associate Professor of Drama Anton Dudley, the director of Cabaret-19.
Cabaret-19 will also be available online for free viewing, increasing the show’s accessibility. “Now friends, parents and extended family members can see and access the productions in ways they wouldn’t have been able to in past years,” said Dudley.
Despite the fact that Broadway will not reopen until fall 2021 and many universities have cancelled their in-person productions, Dudley still wanted Kenyon to put on a fall production. He is excited by the opportunities Cabaret-19 has presented. “Even though theater looks different from the theater we have done in the past, we can see that theater is very much alive and immediate, and that it can be done in this moment,” Dudley said.
While putting together Cabaret-19 over the summer, Dudley commissioned about 30 professional writers. He asked them to produce responses to some element of their experience with the last six months. Their pieces represented various aspects that have defined people’s journeys since the beginning of the pandemic, including the Black Lives Matter movement and social isolation.
Dudley hopes the production’s diverse cast and contributors and its focus on current events will attract viewers.
“This production represents a larger body of voices than seen in past productions … showing [an] immediate response to what is going on in the world,” Dudley said.
While providing viewers with the opportunity to process this year’s events, Dudley also expressed hopes that Cabaret-19 will offer both entertainment and a sense of community. “I think we are all starved for that right now,” he said. “I think that will be something nice to have.”
For those off campus or otherwise not attending a viewing party, Cabaret-19 will be available online at kenyon.edu/cabaret-19 starting at 8 p.m. on Oct. 30.