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UMKC theatre department returns to in-person productions

UMKC Theatre will not require the audience to be vaccinated, but only the performers.

UMKC suspended all in-person theatrical performances last year due to the pandemic, opting for virtual shows instead. With in-person classes back and loosened social distancing guidelines this semester, there is a growing anticipation in the theatre department for the return of live performances.

“This year, we’re actually doing real productions, which is very exciting because that’s what we’re used to, that’s what we like doing,” Adam Hooper, a graduate student in scene design, said. “We’re putting more people in the house, hopefully. We’re putting actual sets on stage. We’re doing all the work that we’re used to doing.”

To some, there is no proper substitute for in-person theater.

“An intrinsic part of humanity is storytelling and story sharing and connection,” Sidoni Garrett, executive artistic director of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, said. “Live theatre is the only thing that really gives you that. You’re right in the room with those people, so you’re getting and you’re giving at the same time.”

Kenneth Martin, chair of UMKC’s Theatre Division, confirmed that there will be nine live productions this school year. The first of these will be “The Tempest,” made in collaboration with the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. The show will run Sept. 16-18 and 21-25. This show is completely free, but students will need to reserve their tickets online.

Health guidelines will be in place to minimize COVID-19 exposure and maintain safety.

“We are going to socially distance the audience,” Garrett said. “The audience will be masked. It’s a more-than-five-hundred-seat house that we’re performing in, but we’re only seating two hundred people per night.” 

Family and friends will be permitted to sit together if they choose, and the theatre department will not require vaccinations. However, Martin said that performers must be vaccinated.

“We want to just get in front of an audience again,” Garret said. “We want to do what we do. We miss it.”

Reserve tickets for this month’s production of “The Tempest” here.

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