Last year, the Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT), like the rest of the world, was forced to take a step back and reevaluate their operations as the pandemic raged on. While Broadway spent over a year in hibernation, CRT chose to persist, hosting performances in the unconventional world of Zoom. Under the direction of Beth Gardiner, students from UConn’s Department of Dramatic Arts came together via the internet to present “Men on Boats” to an unseen — albeit present — audience.
As things return to normal this year, CRT is excited to launch a new set of performances for their fall season. Students are finally returning to the stage. Laptops begone!
The season kicks off in September with an outdoor performance of “She Kills Monsters,” directed by Beth Gardiner. In October, Helen T. Clark will direct Patrick Barlow’s “The 39 Steps.” And in December, the season will end with an interactive performance of “Food for the Gods,” written and directed by Nehprii Amenii.
Operating as a producing arm of the Department of Dramatic Arts, CRT is not only responsible for entertaining an audience, but also for providing students with invaluable educational opportunities. The department offers programs in acting, design and tech, puppet arts and theatre studies, with students called upon to participate in CRT performances — on and off-stage.
This past year, CRT’s former artistic director, Michael Bradford, was promoted to Vice Provost of Faculty, Staff and Student Development. Coming in for the fall season is newly appointed artistic director, Megan Rivas.
Rivas joins the School of Fine Arts with 25 years of professional theatre experience. Also the head of the dramatic arts department, Rivas is in charge of identifying talent and developing a curriculum to fulfill its academic mission. In addition to casting students, CRT brings in professionals from the Actor’s Equity Association to act as directors, scenic designers or choreographers, depending on a production’s needs.
Behind the scenes is Michael Beasley, CRT’s interim managing director. Beasley leans into the administrative side of things, working on marketing, budgeting, licensing and contracts.
While the artistic director calls the shots when it comes to stage presence, Beasley handles the technical aspects, working to support and execute their vision.
“Being back on stage, without a doubt,” Beasley said when asked what he was most looking forward to this season. “Live stage theatre at its core is all about stories and connection, the human experience. During COVID, a wedge was really driven into that.”
Though CRT plans to welcome a full capacity audience in the spring, this fall will have a limited audience, as per health and safety guidelines. Audiences will be expected to wear masks, social distance and purchase tickets in advance. Keep an eye on the CRT website to snatch tickets before they sell out! You won’t want to miss UConn’s return to live theatre.
As Beasley excitedly said, “There’s nothing like seeing people in the flesh.”