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The Show Must Go On: The Return Of Bradley University Theatre

Bradley University Theater Arts Department

As theatres around the globe reopen and begin live performances again, Bradley University’s theatre is no different, according to Theatre Arts department chair Scott Kanoff.

“We are cautiously optimistic. We are planning to open Nov. 3 with our first production which is Thorton Wilder’s classic 'Our Town,'" Kanoff said.

Kanoff said with a mix of proper social distancing, masks, and vaccinations, he hopes for a safe and healthy return to the Hartman Center for both performers and audience members.

Scott Kanoff
Bradley University Theatre Arts department chair Scott Kanoff.

When the pandemic first began in Spring 2020, the department was in the middle of rehearsing a production of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." That production was cancelled, and since then all of the shows have been performed via Zoom, which was a new challenge for the faculty and students.

“We turned our conference room into a big production center, and we had many monitors and screens and audio hookups and links… and so it was grandly collaborative and there was a lot of mutual learning going on. The students were thrilled, they really embraced it,” Kanoff said.

While there was a lot of uncertainty initially when tasked with pivoting to a new, digital platform, Kanoff noted that there was no such thing as failure.

“It was exhilarating, I have to say… it reminded us that we’re all infinitely adaptable and it was a great triumph I think.”

Now, the department is ready to brace the stage again with a diverse season, including plays "Antigone" by David Rush and "The Revolutionists" by Lauren Gunderson, both of which are directed by graduating seniors.

Since "Our Town" will be the first show that welcomes audiences back into the theatre, there was a lot to think about when selecting it.

“I think it’s a really timely decision to do this play now. I think it offers a lot to people. It offers solace, it offers commonality, and it offers a lot of wisdom too,” Kanoff says. “We think we offer something theatre enthusiasts are really going to appreciate… the best way to support us is to come see our work and spread the word.”

"Our Town" opens Nov. 3 and runs through Nov. 7. Tickets can be purchased at Bradley.edu/Theatre beginning in October.

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Jody Holtz is WCBU's assistant program director and host of WCBU's newsmagazine All Things Peoria and WCBU's morning news podcast On Deck.