Theatre and Dance announces its 2023-24 season

The BW Theatre and Dance revealed their upcoming season of shows, committed to promoting diversity.


Eddie Coffield, production manager of the BW Theatre Department, announces the Sketchbook Series.

The BW Department of Theatre and Dance announced its upcoming season on March 2 in Kleist’s Mainstage Theatre with a twist of creative flair.  

Students embarked on a scavenger hunt in the theater’s last five rows to find envelopes containing the names of all the upcoming season’s shows. Once found, the students revealed each of the seasons’ plays and dance concerts.  

The 2023-24 theater season comprises eight projects: two Spotlight Series plays, two Sketchbook Series plays, two Lab Series productions and two staged readings to be performed in the Kleist lobby.  

These projects include the plays “The Dining Room,” “Sweat,” “The Secret in the Wings,” “Measure for Measure,” “Lobby Hero” and “In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play.” The student directed lab series productions will be “The Laramie Project” and “Bagel High.”  

The upcoming dance season includes the fall edition of testing grounds, “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions,” and two spring testing ground programs. The first is the annual “Danceworks-in-Progress,” in which students, faculty and guests present work; the second is “Propulsion,” which is about Gino Severini’s paintings and their connection to genres in street dance.  

2024 marks the tenth-year anniversary of “fyoo zh en,” and next year’s concert is entitled “Spatial Proximity.” This production will be in collaboration with assistant professor of zoology Andrew Merwin.  

René Copeland, professor of directing and coordinator of the directing program, said that all the plays were decided on by a committee who took a long list of suggestions and cut it down to six shows.  

Copeland said that the committee collected data from fellow colleagues to see what shows they would be interested in directing or what shows they believed students needed to learn. The committee also collected student input through the Theatre Arts and Performance student organization.  

“We’re looking for the kinds of plays students of theatre should have an opportunity to do,” Copeland said. “We don’t want to do all the same kinds of plays year after year, so we’re trying to… do quite a deep dive into the past history of the last 10 seasons and just kind of see where we need to go from there.”   

In their decision-making process, Copeland said the committee considered the diversity within the cast of characters to make sure there will be enough principal roles for women and BIPOC actors. They also took into account diversity among the playwrights.  

“We’re trying to engender commitment to diversity in those choices, as well, which is a challenge for all of us because so much of theatre is written by white guys,” Copeland said.  

“We’re mindful of that when we’re making those choices.”  

One of the shows in the upcoming season is “Sweat,” which is written by two-time Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage, a Black woman. The director Nathan Henry, who recently directed “Detroit ’67” in the fall, will return BW to guest direct “Sweat,” and shouts of delight reverberated through Mainstage Theatre when this was announced.  

First-year BFA Acting major Geneva Millikan said “Sweat” was the play she is most looking forward to next season.   

The full lineup for next year’s theatrical season. Photo by Austin Patterson.

“I saw Lynn Nottage speak in my home state a few months ago, and I just love her work, and I can’t wait to see what Nathan Henry does with it,” Millikan said.  

Copeland said she is happy that there will be shows in the upcoming season that students are excited for, as well as ones they explicitly asked to perform through their submissions to TAP.  

Senior BFA Acting student Emily Polcyn headed the student play selection committee for TAP, and she said that the members on this committee read all the plays that were sent to them, and they picked about three to four plays to send to Copeland for consideration. Of those submissions, the faculty committee chose “In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play” and “The Dining Room.”  

Polcyn said that she is looking forward to ‘The Dining Room’ because of its vignette style which will give the students the opportunity to develop different characters.  

“I love ‘The Vibrator Play.’ I think it’s such a great fit for the staged reading series because it does have sexual content in it, which can get a little dicey,” Polcyn said. “But it’s such a beautiful story about female empowerment and sexuality and queer relationships.”  

Copeland said she encourages everyone to come see the shows they have lined up for this season because the shows do not only provide an educational experience for the students, but they also seek to entertain an audience.  

“I think if someone is looking for some really interesting insight [in]to what young theatre artists are interested in and good at, coming to see our season is a good way to do that,” Copeland said. “Just come see what the young actors are up to.”