Arts departments shuffle around dates, resources to accommodate after Irma

Gema Valdes, a supervisor in the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre costume shop, works to sew costumes for the upcoming production of Pippin. The technical crews of the Department of Theatre Arts have had to quickly respond to schedule changes resulting from Hurricane Irma. Photo credit: Isabella Cueto

For two and a half weeks the University of Miami has been on a hiatus. Every class, extracurricular activity and event scheduled during that time was canceled. This forced every department to rethink its agenda to accommodate the break and new academic calendar.

For UM’s theater department, the 20 days off school meant students could not rehearse lines or choreography for the upcoming play, ‘Pippin.’ Many worried, as opening night was originally scheduled for Sept. 28, only three days after classes would resume.

The Frost School dance director and choreographer for ‘Pippin,’ Christine Kellogg, said she could not make her students rehearse until school was back in session, resulting in a complete halt in production.

“Having two weeks away from rehearsal was definitely worrisome,” said Branden Holzer, a theater major playing the titular character in Pippin. “Initially, it was hard to wrap our heads around.”

Not only were the rehearsals postponed, but the set production and costume-making were halted, which resulted in a major loss of time.

“We will have to reduce some of our planned setting and costumes we will present,” Chair of the Theatre Department Stephen Di Benedetto said.

The theater department was able to adjust the Ring Theatre schedule by moving Pippin’s opening night to Oct. 5, a week later than originally scheduled, and squeezing two productions into one month.

The same scheduling problems happened for the Frost School of Music’s performance and concert calendar.

Many events, from its famous “Frost Music Live! Signature Series,” to the musicology lecture series and several concerts were canceled or postponed.

A committee met on Sept. 25 to determine if the school should replay the concerts that were supposed to take place during the hurricane or cancel them entirely.

The calendar was complicated further by special guests who were involved in specific events.

“There was one guest conductor, our outstanding alumnus, Cristian Macelaru, who was going to conduct the orchestra on Sept. 14,” Dean of the Frost School of Music Shelton Berg said. “We had to cancel the concert and now with his busy schedule, we are unsure if we can bring him back.”

However, many concerts were able to be rescheduled, and a new calendar with a list of events is available on the Frost events website. Associate professor Gabriel Beavers resumed the concert series on Monday, Sept. 25, with a bassoon recital of music from 1900-1926. The university was first founded in 1926, when it was also hit by the Great Miami Hurricane.

Problems also arose at the Lowe Art Museum when rescheduling events with special guests.

Because the museum closed from Sept. 6 to Sept. 26, Walter Wick, the artist featured in the Lowe’s latest exhibit, “Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos, and Toys in the Attic,” was not able to visit the museum for his “Community Day” on Sept. 8. The museum remains unsure if he will be able to come a different day.

While it’s hard to make up for lost time, many departments successfully rearranged schedules and found solutions for canceled events and programs. For more information, see the updated arts and culture calendar.