PMA Announces 2021-2022 Productions

July 20, 2021

The Performing & Media Arts Performance & Events Committee is pleased to announce its selections for the 2021/2022 academic year, a dynamic slate that highlights student voices and opportunities. From solo performance to a Hip Hop concert, from a work-shopped musical to our annual dance showcase, this selection of film, theatre, dance and multi-media will enliven and delight throughout the year. And to celebrate our return to live performances and live audiences, we are happy to announce that this year’s productions will be free! (Please see SchwartzTickets.com for details, as some may require reserving tickets in advance).

Despite the effects of COVID-19 on live performances during the 2020/2021 academic year, the P&E committee received an abundance of proposals centering the voices of PMA students.

PMA has undergone reckonings as related to mentorship and racial justice in the past year and the Performance & Events Committee has taken the crucial step of prioritizing, uplifting, and supporting student voices and projects as a result of these revelations.

The committee is also pleased to announce that four film thesis projects—short films written and directed by students – will for the first time receive production funding and support that has historically been awarded only to live performances.

The school year will kick off with the much-celebrated Festival 24 on August 28th. This festival invites students to devise one-act plays over the course of twenty-four hours to be presented in front of the first live audience since March of 2020. Performances will take place in the Class of ’56 Flexible Theatre (the Flex). A second iteration of the festival will occur at the beginning of the spring semester.

From October 11th-13th, PMA ecstatically welcomes renowned indigenous activist, artist, and dancer Santee Smith. Smith is the founder of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre in Toronto and is Chancellor of McMaster University. In 2017, she designed the opening ceremony for the North American Indigenous Games. Smith is a member of the Mohawk Nation. This performance will be an extension of the international conference: Rhythms of the Land: Indigenous Knowledge, Science, and Thriving Together in a Changing Climate presented by the Johnson Museum of Art. Smith's performance will take place in The Schwartz Center Black Box theater. 

In the spirit of centering student voices, the committee is proud to announce a series of student-written and student-driven live performance. In the fall semester performances will include Saving for 17 by Owen Reynolds, an autobiographic play recounting Reynold’s experiences as a young Floridian surviving Hurricane Irma (Oct. 1 & 2); and Reach for the Sky, an exploration of youth and gender identity, by Cole Romero (Oct. 29 – 30).

In the spring semester student-driven live performances will include a performance by Asha Prabhat exploring her personal struggles of abuse, body image, and censorship as a young South Asian woman (dates to be determined); a play by John Colie that explores the intersection of isolation compounded by social media and the Mexican-American experience; and Ph.D. Candidate Caitlin Kane will lead readings of C.A. Johnson’s The Climb, and Audrey Cefaly’s The Gulf—two plays by queer women investigating gender, sexuality, race, and place.

Student film thesis projects will be in production in the spring with PMA support. Thesis films include original screenplays by Shannon O’Shea (Burn), Crystal Nevallier (UNREAL), Joshua Akinwumi (So What?), and Sydney Relihan (Time & Place). Film thesis projects will utilize the SB23 sound stage providing students with a film studio experience, as well as on-location film shoots.

PMA alum Carley Robinson '20 will direct a workshop on November 5 & 6. Sam Blake, Ph.D. candidate, will direct a play to be named that will be presented Nov. 12, 13, 19 & 20. On May 6 & 7, Ph.D. candidate Kelly Richmond will direct and lead an environmental theatre piece: Haunted Natures, Hidden Environments: Staging the Anthropo-Scene with texts by Marie Clements, Madeleine George, Tony Kushner, Karen Malpede, Cherrie Moraga, Colleen Murphy, Lynn Nottage, Robert Schenkkan, RahulVarma, and Anne Washburn serving as inspiration. 

In addition, special events will include At First Blush, a cold reading series led by Ph.D. candidate Andy Colpitts (dates to be determined). Under the invitation of Brian V. Sengdala, Ph.D. candidate, and Associate Professor Christine Balance, Oakland, CA-based Cambodian Hip Hop artist Bochan Huy and San Lorenzo, CA-based Filipino Hip-Hop artist Ruby Ibarra will present a live concert on April 16th.  

As department mainstays, Mini-Locally Grown Dance (Dec. 2, 3 & 4) and Locally Grown Dance (Spring semester, dates to be determined) will present the evolving work of students in the Ballet and Modern Dance studios.

The vision of the Performance and Events committee is to nurture and mentor artists, performers, writers, and thinkers through the process of event programming. We recognize that all people should see their stories represented, and envision their stories as valuable. We commit ourselves to create spaces that actively seek to break down systems of oppression based on race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, and place of origin and empower all to be involved. We seek to stimulate thoughtful discussion and enact social change within our productions and our audiences. It is our goal to make our events accessible to the wider Cornell and Ithaca community, to strengthen bonds and engage inquiry, dialogue, and impact around social and cultural change.

Image of two actors on stage