This season is highlighted by the opening of the Ent Center for the Arts, and in the academic department, it was so important for us to create a home in the new building, centered around a living room. When you come up the stairs to our beautiful second floor space, you will find yourself in a plush lobby with couches, red carpeting and a gorgeous balcony with unobstructed views of Pikes Peak. This place of gathering and sharing is just steps away from a state of the art Acting Studio, a breathtaking Movement Studio, and our jewel box Osborne Theatre. There is a kitchen down the hall, just beyond the faculty offices and dressing rooms.
This hub and spoke design, along with the advanced technology and homey atmosphere, reflects the ethos of our department and our Theatre of Ideas programming. More than just a building, we look forward to making the Ent Center a place of community connections from around the arts. As with Prologue, our signature series, we will continue to offer the best and most rigorous classes and educational initiatives in our new home, all the while creating in a place of inclusivity and curiosity. More than just the “two-hours traffic of the stage,” we believe that theatre may be a centerpiece of a community, just as it was at the Festival of Dionysus in ancient Athens.
Simply put, Theatre of Ideas is our moniker for all of the remarkable programming that arises out of the Theatre and Dance Program at UCCS. Students and faculty are working on a series of extraordinary plays for the UCCS Theatre Company season (UCCSTC) including a puppet, dance, music extravaganza performance of Peer Gynt directed by Kevin Landis. Leah Chandler-Mills will continue her staged reading series featuring great plays from world literature that aren’t often staged but must be heard and fully appreciated. Tiffany Tinsley-Weeks and the dance division have a series of terrific master classes lined up that allow our students to collaborate with some of the greatest dancers in the world. We are introducing an exciting new initiative in the spring. Max Shulman is starting a program called Home Front that will endeavor to use theatre to connect our university to the military community that is so important to Colorado Springs and the country.
In February, on the occasion of the opening of the Ent Center, we will host a lecture from the acclaimed Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of the Public Theater in New York, and we will present a Town Hall on race and class in the American theatre. It will feature three of the most fascinating artists working today, Idris Goodwin, Jenny Koons, and Brian Quijada. February will also be highlighted by a residency from one of the greatest performance art creative teams around: an amazing little company from Chicago called Manual Cinema that will leave you breathless.
Finally, and most importantly, our move to the Ent Center solidifies UCCS Theatre and Dance as a premiere academic program in the arts. Or students are our primary focus and the greatest investment in the arts that a community can make. Giving them this playground to work on their directing, their acting, their choreography, their design and their scholarship, ensures that our discipline will continue to grow and thrive. Our success will demonstrate the clear fact that art is, and must be, both a home and a pillar of democracy.