Dan School of Drama & Music cancels fall & winter majors

COVID-19 continues to impact theatre artists at Queen’s

Theological Hall sits empty.
The Dan School of Drama and Music announced the cancelation of its major productions on July 31 in an email to students in the respective programs. 
Before the pandemic struck, Timothy Findley’s Not Wanted on the Voyage, a modern retelling of Noah’s Ark, and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard’s A Man, A Fish, inspired by events in Burundi, were selected as the majors for the year. 
Major productions happen once per semester annually and differ from student-run theatre shows as they’re directed by Queen’s professors.
Maddie Disera, ArtSci ’21, was hired as the Production Manager and Technical Director for Not Wanted on the Voyage. The play is layered with mysticism and religious themes, using puppets to portray the story with originality. 
“I was really looking forward to ending my Drama degree in this role,” Disera said in an interview with The Journal. 
“It was scheduled as the Fall Major, and we had done a lot of work in terms of creating the whole launch night, hiring our main production and creative team, and collaborating on policies to make the Dan School majors a more inclusive space.”
Disera said the Black Lives Matter movement had come up in many discussions as the team created workplace trainings, accessibility measures, and new ideas to promote diversity in the program.  
Initially, a statement on the Dan School Majors Facebook page was released in May, outlining a plan to have both major productions performed in the winter semester. However, this shifted as the summer progressed, and both shows were eventually cancelled.  
“I was informed every step of the way, largely because there were so many meetings about what we were going to do,” Disera said. “I wish we could have communicated with our production team more, but unfortunately it was pretty chaotic.”
Lucy Mee, ArtSci ’22, was also part of the production team for the Fall Major as Co-Head of Props. “I had no idea the shows were canceled until the email on the 31st,” Mee said. “One student working on lighting didn’t even get the email because he wasn’t a Drama or Music major, so he actually found out through others on the production team.”
After the initial email was sent, Disera sent a follow-up response to members on the production team. The Dan School faculty also provided alternative options for course credit in the email, as many students were fulfilling requirements of their degree by working on production teams. 
“Sarah Waisvisz who was to direct the Winter Major, has created a winter-term course (DRAM 319/3.0 Creative and Production Approaches to ‘A Man, A Fish’) which will culminate in an online presentation of the play. In addition, there will be an online puppet-making course that will be related to the production of Not Wanted on the Voyage that had originally been intended for the Fall Major,” the email stated. 
“Every theatre company is on their own now because there isn’t an example from thedepartment,” Mee said. “But I am really excited that the Dan Studio Series (DSS), which is funded by the Dan School, is moving forward with a Zoom production.” 
Despite the pandemic, various student-run theatre companies have also announced plans to create online performances in the upcoming year. 
“There are so many unique and creative ways to make theatre,” said Disera. “The majors are unable to move forward, but other theatre companies are definitely innovating. I think it’s going to be a long time before we’re able to have the ‘theatre experience’ again, so I’m really glad to see other forms of performance at Queen’s.” 

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