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Friday, September 24, 2021

Program offers students and staff chance to create productions

Institute for Exploration in Theatre, Dance and Performance (ITDP), a program aimed at helping develop research in the aforementioned fields for Aggie students, faculty and staff, is brand new to the UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance this year.

According to the ITDP website, the main goal is to “further research through practical exploration and application.” This allows ITDP applicants to put on a wide range of productions, whether it be dance performances or comedic plays.

The ITDP department supplies applicants with rehearsal space, costumes, furniture and other basic necessities in order to produce a production.

In addition, an effort is made to promote each new production with the help of Facebook posts, placements on the ITDP website, newsletters and flyers. Beyond that, each project is handled according to the respective scale and format — no tickets are sold and spaces for each performance are not delegated in advance.

Undergraduate student Kevin Adamski has looked to ITDP to help with the upcoming December production of Dead Man’s Cell Phone, a comedy by playwright Sarah Ruhl that deals with a technology-obsessed world. Adamski commented on ITDP’s helpfulness and how it’s allowed him to put more effort into his directorial duties.

“As I’m still learning and honing my craft, I greatly appreciated the assistance and learning opportunities from working with a faculty adviser,” Adamski said. “I also appreciate the resources the department generously provides to the project, something I would struggle to find outside of the university environment. Without having to worry extensively about resources, I can focus on directing and research.”

Adamski also talked about how ITDP handles its main goal of furthering research in a particular field. In this case, the program helped develop his honors project on directing.

“I’m using my ITDP project to help inform my honors project on the craft of directing,” Adamski said. “Having already taken both directing classes offered through the department and directing short works through The Dead Arts Society and the department’s Edge festival, developing my craft through working on a full-length show was the next logical step.”

Although Dead Man’s Cell Phone is one of many intriguing performances scheduled this quarter for ITDP, there have already been successful productions with the help of the program. Among them is Today I Live, a play written by MFA candidate Susan-Jane Harrison. It’s a tale of an isolated Persian woman and an Irish mapmaker from another era and their emotional struggles as themes of foreign culture and displacement are tackled.

Harrison highlighted ITDP’s assistance in the promotion of Today I Live as a bright spot in her collaboration with the program.

“One of the most helpful things we received was publicity support which was undertaken by the publicist in the department,” Harrison said. “They did a really nice flyer and an email blast which ensured that we had a good-sized audience.”

The production of Today I Live, which took place earlier this month, was cited as an overall positive experience by Harrison.

“I was very happy to have had the opportunity to share my work and receive feedback from professors and fellow students, professionals in the theater world,” Harrison said. “Their input was invaluable, as well as what I gained through performing and experiencing the play from the inside.”

Although the season for Fall quarter is lined up at this point, ITDP is still accepting submissions for Winter quarter from anyone on campus through Nov. 19. The submission forms can be found at theatredance.ucdavis.edu.

ANTHONY LABELLA can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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