Laramie’s social calendar came to a screeching halt over the weekend and for the foreseeable future, leaving those with spring events on the calendar devising contingency plans and looking ahead to summer and beyond.
With the cancellation of campus events at the University of Wyoming, the UW Symphony Orchestra was forced to postpone a Thursday production that was among the most eagerly anticipated in recent memory.
Conductor Michael Griffith had planned a line-up that included “The Planets,” a popular seven-movement orchestral suite written in 1916 by Gustav Holst, with each movement connected to a planet and its astrological character.
“He’s so successful in doing what he wants to do, and it’s hugely popular,” Griffith said of Holst’s work.
Griffith said last week that he chose the spring semester to perform the piece because he felt he had the right combination of musicians in the orchestra, including two alumni returning for the opportunity.
“In my entire teaching career, I never programmed a piece of music that excited the players more,” Griffith said. “At every rehearsal, there’s a significant improvement since the previous rehearsal, which tells me they’ve really been working hard on it, which tells me they enjoy it.”
Another campus group, Mountain Woman Bellydancing, decided to postpone its annual showcase, the Silk Road Showcase, to June 20.
As with campus events, The Unexpected Company senior theater group has pushed its spring show to sometime next fall.
The group, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, is planning “Laramie — Colors of the Past,” a celebration of Laramie’s 150-year history. Member Germaine St. John said the uncertain date of the resumption of community gatherings, coupled with a busy summer at the Alice Hardie Stevens Center where the group performs, necessitates a fall date.
“We’re going to do the same show, we just don’t know when we’ll be able to do it,” she said. “Everybody is a little discouraged right now.”
Meanwhile, the Laramie Plains Civic Center, home to the Gryphon Theatre, closed to the public Wednesday. That means no annual March concert by homegrown punk rock group Teenage Bottlerock. That concert has been rescheduled for June 25, while plans for the April theater production of “Two Degrees” by Relative Theatrics are still under consideration.
Founder Anne Mason said recommendations to avoid community gatherings cut at the foundation of theater, which is relational and intimate.
“What do we do to cultivate artistic expression in these times of limited personal contact?” she asked.
She and the cast of “Two Degrees,” a play about truth-telling and climate change, are discussing ways they could possibly continue rehearsing remotely and then present a remote performance. The considerations include mechanics, artistic limitations and even the legality of their license to use the material. Relative Theatrics had partnered with the UW Honors College as one of its primary sponsors, collaborating with a class that will now be meeting online.
“Are there ways that we can continue to work together on the play remotely, where we can still engage with the work, explore the relationships, develop the characters, have conversations about the content — which would then be able to turn into some type of broadcast reading or performance that could still facilitate conversation and provide some artistic entertainment and outlet without risking anyone’s personal safety or health?” she asked.
Mason said the arts can foster hope and resilience in uncertain times, and she’s committed to enabling others to explore theater despite the need for social distancing. She’s offering free drama coaching for anyone who wants to develop a monologue from dramatic literature and upload it on social media.
“Anxiety is through the roof right now, and the arts can do such a wonderful job to alleviate stress, so finding creative ways to still bring theater into people’s lives is important to me,” she said.
The offer is open to actors of all experience levels. Contact mason at email@example.com for more information.