This fall, Kenyon’s Department of Dance, Drama, and Film is putting together Cabaret-19: a production composed of various monologues, short plays, dance pieces and musical numbers, all related to COVID-19 and current events.
Due to COVID-19 and physical distancing guidelines, the Department could not put on their typical ensemble shows in Bolton Theater. Instead of cancelling the fall production altogether, Associate Professor of Drama Anton Dudley came up with the idea to create a digital theater production.
Before the fall semester, Dudley contacted a variety of off-campus lyricists and playwrights, asking them to write short pieces that relate to COVID-19 and other current events. The performances are filmed, allowing for more students to be involved with the production and for the unique opportunity of collaboration within the Department. Currently in production, Cabaret-19 will be made available on the Kenyon website on Oct. 23 for viewing.
The Department cast students both on and off campus for the production. The students have been rehearsing all semester and are now filming their pieces. Assistant Professor of Dance Kora Radella, who choreographed two dances for Cabaret-19, said that she spends about seven hours a week rehearsing with the students.
One of Radella’s dances, “I so la tion,” performed by Wickham Bermingham ’23, demonstrates the theme of alienation during COVID-19. “The dance goes in and out of different emotional landscapes, showing feelings of solace, frustration, anger and disgust about being alone during COVID in a stylized way,” Radella said.
Radella’s other dance, “Boomerang,” composed by Khiyon Hursey and performed by Bella Kimbrough ’24, addresses Black Lives Matter and civil rights issues. According to Radella, “Trying to be resilient in these times when there’s an absence of hope or support is seen in the movement and trajectory of the dance.” Additionally, the dance incorporates a recording of Morgan Freeman reading the last paragraph of an essay John Lewis wrote before his death.
Kimbrough will also perform a monologue directed by Dudley and Assistant Director Zola Gray ’23. In the monologue, written by Nambi E. Kelley and titled “Under the Bridge Is Where I Drew Some Blood,” Kimbrough portrays a woman who has recently lost her job and become homeless because of COVID-19.
According to Kimbrough, Cabaret-19 shows the resilience of the Kenyon community. “We are making light of a dark situation, and — regardless of the state of the world — we are still able to come together and create something creative that showcases all our talents,” she said.
Cabaret-19 will be released on Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. at kenyon.edu/cabaret-19.