- Kacey Spadafora
An Other Theater Company:
Odd Shaped Balls
Like all arts organizations, Provo-based An Other Theater Company had to radically re-think its plans after the COVID-19 pandemic required the shuttering of live productions. According to artistic director Kacey Spadafora, "We were actually in rehearsal for a production. We were putting the finishing touches on our set, then had to cancel."
Looking for an option that would provide revenue while staying within guidelines for safe social distancing, Spadafora remembered a play he had seen at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Richard D. Sheridan's Odd Shaped Balls, a 30-minute one-actor show about a professional rugby player trying to keep secret that he's in a romantic relationship with a man. Spadafora contacted Sheridan, who agreed to allow the production without any rights fees.
Spadafora then reached out to actor Colter Lee Brown, with whom he'd worked previously, about starring in Odd Shaped Balls and playing the show's eight different roles. "The biggest challenge is, it's putting on a one-man show in two weeks," Brown says. "And not only one character, but doing character work for multiple characters."
With that condensed timetable, the production team works in rehearsals that place Spadafora (who directs this production), Brown and two tech staffers at safe distances from one another—plus a dialect coach working with Brown via Skype. Even costuming required creative solutions, as Spadafora looked for a rugby-style uniform at a sporting goods store, "grabbed what I hoped would fit him, and it worked out."
Tickets for Odd Shaped Balls are available on a pay-what-you-can basis at anothertheater.org, for a recorded performance that will be available April 10-12, 6 p.m. – 11:59 p.m. Ticket-buyers will be emailed the link for the stream at 5 p.m. on their selected date. (Scott Renshaw)
- Hyperion Records
Utah Symphony & Opera
Just on the eve of the opening of Utah Opera's production of The Barber of Seville, the world changed, and with it the way people would be able to interact with some of the greatest music ever composed. Fortunately, Utah Symphony & Opera continues to offer many ways to enjoy that music, and to continue supporting the organization.
While live performances are not possible at this time—and scheduled performances have been cancelled through the end of the scheduled season in May—you can still hear the musicians of the Utah Symphony every day. KBYU (89.1 FM) is offering daily broadcasts of previously-recorded symphony performances, with upcoming highlights including Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9 (April 10, 2 p.m.) and Prokoviev's Piano Concerto No. 2 (April 15, 9 a.m.). Additionally, some of these broadcasts are available for streaming at utahsymphony.org/explore/playlists/listening-room, along with curated playlists and episodes of the Symphony's GhostLight podcast.
According to USUO CEO Patricia Richards, one bright spot in this dark time has been the way other symphony organizations around the country have come together to provide ideas and a sense of shared purpose. "It gave us a great sense of solidarity," Richards says. "Here we are, all isolated in our hopes, and to talk to peers around the country and support one another, it was really very uplifting."
For those who want to continue supporting USUO, and ensure that it emerges from this crisis strong, Richards emphasizes buying Symphony recordings, continuing to buy tickets for upcoming performances, and donating the cost of already-purchased tickets rather than seeking replacements. "Our biggest expense, and our biggest concern, is our employees, and how to support them," Richards says. "By donating those back, we can really keep them employed." (SR)
- Melissa Miller
Discovery Gateway Online STEAM Learning Lab
Providing educational experiences for children is nothing new for the staff of Discovery Gateway. But when the facility itself had to close its doors, the education and marketing professionals needed to find a way to adapt those experiences for online use.
The result is the STEAM Learning Lab, which provides new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday combining basic scientific concepts, historical background information and hands-on crafts. One such lesson, for example, uses the artistic technique of pointillism—with cotton swabs and paint—to introduce the three states of matter, along with links to a YouTube video and other educational resources. Other topics include the Holi Festival of Colors, a photography scavenger hunt and the story of paleontologist Mary Anning
"We really wanted to continue to be there for our members and our patrons as a resource, and in a fun way," says Melissa Miller, Senior Marketing Manager for Discovery Gateway. "We tried to make sure the materials would be things you would already have at home, or easy to get as you go shopping every once in a while."
The lessons are adapted by the Discovery Gateway on-site education team, with the marketing department serving as the "layperson's eyes" to ensure that they're easy to follow. Miller says that the programming had already been planned more than a month in advance, so there's no danger in running out of content any time soon. "We had some conceptual ideas, but they really had to go back to the drawing board to make it online and have parents be able to do it," she says. "In some sense, this is something we already do, just trying to reformat it for online just requires a little re-thinking." (SR)
- Gianfranco Gorgoni
Utah Museum of Fine Arts Online Programming
If you've been needing a dose of visual art in your stay-at-home life, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts is ready to serve you. Via the new "UMFA at Home" portal from the museum's website (umfa.utah.edu), visitors can access a wide-range of experiences, stories and educational opportunities for the family.
Some of that content revolves around the 50th anniversary of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, and while the birthday party originally scheduled for this month had to be cancelled, you can still participate in the celebration. View stunning images of the Spiral Jetty, discover the history behind its creation and who continues to maintain it, and share personal stories, video and images about your own experiences with the Great Salt Lake landmark.
For even more Smithson content, visit for video made possible by the Holt/Smithson Foundation. Every Friday, a moving image work by Nancy Holt and/or Robert Smithson will be released via password-protected Vimeo link, for viewing between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. on that day. Take advantage of a rare opportunity to view an artistic installation in your own home.
As for the museum's own installations, UMFA is attempting to provide access to some of the ongoing exhibitions. Among those exhibitions that had to be closed to the public during the current pandemic, Seven Masters: 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints will be offered in a limited online form, with a gallery page allowing access to approximately a third of the installed works and accompanying wall text. Visit the UMFA website, Instagram (@utahmuseumoffinearts) and other social media pages, or sign up for the now-weekly email newsletter for ongoing updates about ways to share in the artistic treasures of UMFA. (SR)