Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - 42

L

ike many academic performance venues, Krannert Center for the Performing
Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign faced monumental
challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The academic programs and
performance spaces at Krannert Center typically support a vibrant in-person
community of educators and artists, including undergraduate and graduate
programs, as well as a professional theatre. Building on community trust, institutional
resources, planning, and flexibility, the team was able to run a full year of academic programming and education, despite a global pandemic which closed the doors of
Krannert Center to the outside public. The decision-making processes and adjustments
made throughout the fall 2020 semester, and into the spring 2021 semester, offer important lessons for both pandemic and non-pandemic producing organizations.
Community of Trust

" A community of trust " perfectly describes the environment at Krannert
Center, allowing students, faculty, and
staff to focus on what was important and
to continue to produce great art within
the new boundaries of the world. As
Krannert Center Director Mike Ross said
in a letter to patrons: " We know that the
restorative, healing, and hope-inspiring
capacity of the arts will continue to play
an important role " (Krannert Center
2020). The Departments of Theatre and
Dance, along with the School of Music,
all joined together to step up and take
this opportunity to expand the boundaries of academic practice and physical performance spaces.
This community of trust was made possible by the large-scale rapid testing program, known as SHIELD, that brought
national recognition to the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, combined
with a full-on effort by the entire campus
population. As of the writing of this article, more than 1.7 million tests have been
administered and the campus case positivity rate over the last thirty days is 0.10
percent (Illinois Technology Services).
Our SHIELD program, led by the foremost scholars and scientists here at the
University of Illinois, is organized into
three key components: TARGET, modeling to guide test frequency and scheduling; TEST, fast and scalable saliva PCR
test for SARS-CoV-2 with results in 4-8

Contexts
The community and spaces at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are large
and varied. The facilities and teams described in this piece include: Krannert Center,
the Departments of Theatre and Dance, and the School of Music, which includes Lyric
Theatre @ Illinois. In addition to the 2,059-seat Foellinger Great Hall, Krannert Center
contains three other theatres that are used regularly for productions: the 979-seat Tryon Festival Theatre, the 641-seat Colwell Playhouse, and the 200-seat Studio Theatre.
The Studio was converted into a classroom space for the fall semester, and was then
utilized as the venue for the spring semester production The Heist: A Theatrical Escape
Room. On average, each season includes six theatre productions, four dance productions, and three Lyric Theatre productions, in addition to the professionally produced
Krannert Marquee Season. Level 21, which is the name of the Department of Theatre's
Design, Technology, and Management degree program, has 21 faculty and staff, 53
undergraduate students, and 40 graduate students in ten programs, including Scenic
Design, Scenic Technology, Costume Design, Costume Technology, Properties Design
and Management, Lighting Design and Technology, Sound Design and Technology, Media Design and Technology, Stage Management, and Arts and Entertainment Technology. The total student enrollment in the departments housed in Krannert Center is 988,
and the faculty and staff number 161.

hours; and TELL, digital exposure notifications and manual contact tracing
(University of Illinois System 2020).
As with all COVID-19 response
plans, our local conditions and government dictated the parameters within
which the Krannert Center, as part of
a state university, operated during the
academic year. The SHIELD rapid
testing program was developed in response to federal guidelines developed
by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) and the Gubernatorial
Disaster Proclamation issued on March
12, 2020 by JB Pritzker, Governor of the

42 | THEATRE DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY | SPRING 2021

State of Illinois, which declared all counties in Illinois as disaster areas (State of
Illinois 2020). On May 5, 2020 Governor
Pritzker announced the " Restore Illinois "
plan and outlined five phases of reopening which separated the counties into 11
Health Regions; Champaign County is located within Region 6 and, as of the writing of this article, the county is in Phase
4: Revitalization. (Office of the Governor
JB Pritzker 2020). On May 12, 2020,
Chancellor Robert J. Jones announced the
formation of the " COVID-19: Executive
Steering Committee on Return to OnCampus Operations " which included



Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021

Contents
Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - Cover1
Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - Cover2
Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - 1
Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - Contents
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Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - Cover3
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