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Published September 21, 2020
In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the show must indeed go on.
The University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance is creating new works and investigating updated modes of engaging and connecting with audiences for the 2020-21 production season.
This fall’s production season opens with professor and playwright-in-residence William Missouri Downs’ new comedy, titled “Asking Strangers the Meaning of Life.” Downs created the comedy to be performed on Zoom. The livestreams for the production are Sept. 24-27 and Oct. 1-3 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are free for UW students by entering their “W” numbers where indicated when ordering or $5 for others at www.uwyo.edu/finearts. Tickets also can be purchased by calling the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts box office at (307) 766-6666 -- Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. -- to arrange for pay-what-you-can access.
The box office will provide instructions to patrons on how to access the online production.
The UW Department of Theatre and Dance took up the challenge of producing live theater virtually this past June for the 68th annual summer theater season with Yasmina Reza’s comedy “God of Carnage,” directed by Jason Pasqua. The department also streamed the performance using video feed mixing software through Vimeo.
In July, a free condensed version of the Snowy Range Summer Dance Festival was presented over four days of streaming classes with dance professionals from around the country.
As for the opening comedy that asks the timeliest of questions, “What is the meaning of life?,” the production explores a series of two-person vignettes connecting a larger cast of characters. The production focuses on when a blasé writer meets the ghost of Franz Kafka. The encounter sets off an existential chain of events that forces him and others to confront their own meaning and purpose.
Smart, funny and insightful, the mashup of the ideas of Simone de Beauvoir, Voltaire, Fran Lebowitz, Nietzsche, Bangambiki Habyarimana, Viktor Frankl and others tells a humorous story about existentialism, absurdity, faith, fame, God and the ragged, complicated, paradoxical, joyful inconsistency that is life, Downs says about his original play.
“The welcome wit and wisdom of ‘Asking Strangers’ reassure each of us that we have the capacity to create meaning and purpose for ourselves, and to make choices about how we perceive the world,” says Kathy Kirkaldie, UW Fine Arts coordinator. “The show provides a hopeful view of how to connect with others and move forward in these uncertain times.”