Let’s Imagine out loud!
With that rallying cry, the UMass Amherst Department of Theater embarks on its Rights of Spring festival, a mix of virtual and live, outdoor, socially-distanced events scheduled to take place from April 22 to May 2. Both online and in-person events are open to the off-campus community, although capacity is limited for some and registration is required for in-person events.

What better antidote to the isolation and disconnection of this particular winter than to gather to celebrate who we are and what’s important to us — Join UMass Theater for a series of events meant to inspire, amuse, entertain, and spark hope for what’s to come.

The beauty of festivals, says Professor Judyie Al-Bilali, who conceived the idea for the Rights of Spring, is that they serve as a way for a culture to rehearse, renew and if necessary, revise its core myths — to examine its values such as liberation, community, and heroism. All of the events that make up a festival, collectively, tell a story about the people who participate in it. This festival, coming after a hard year of massive social upheaval, serves as a statement from a culture that’s redefining what’s important.

The festival kicks off with an Invocation that includes Earth! an outdoor installation celebrating our planetary home, as well as the first installment of Monuments of the Future, a series of collaborative performances which will also close the festival. In between, you can listen to audio plays that feature contemporary takes on myths, hear from local civil rights leaders, participate in a coven ritual, take in a piece of devised theater that celebrates joy, view graduate student exhibits of gorgeous scenic, lighting, and costume design, and much more. The full listing of event is here.

Collectively, these events and the other pieces on the schedule are focused about creating community by any means available — in Zoom rooms, in conversations, through a unified appreciation of beautiful work. They represent a redefining of what we fit under the definition of theater — those aforementioned Zoom rooms, performances created by teams creating from scratch, scenic installations that spread out across the campus, web-based design presentations that encompass beauty, environmental awareness, and the wonder of old-fashioned story-telling.

Events run April 22 to May 2, and include elements presented live in-person and online, as well as pre-recorded online. All events are open to the community. 
A full listing can be found on our festival website.

In-person events will require advance registration and adherence to UMass COVID protocols for masking and social distancing for attendance.

Individual Monuments Performances:
Atlas — 
April 22, 7:15pm
Connection — April 23, 12pm
Scribe — April 26, 12pm
Truth — April 27, 8pm
Innovation — April 28, 7pm
Loss — April 29, 12pm
Defiance — April 30, 11:30am
Finale with all Monuments — May 2 at 7:30pm
In-person, outdoors
Free, open to the community 

Visit our Rights of Spring festival website for information or register directly at the Fine Arts Center Box Office

 Visitors to campus during our Rights of Spring Festival may come upon enigmatic, expressive figures gliding deliberately through the space, brilliantly displayed in the mid-day sun or merging with the shadows at dusk. These apparations are part of a series of performances known collectively as Monuments of the Future that will be part of both the opening and closing of the festival.

Originally conceived by Professor of Scenic Design Anya Klepikov and now directed by MFA Directing student Rudy Ramirez, this series involves a handful of student and faculty performers, and a cadre of skilled designers and technicians to create an interactive performance collaboration across disciplines. 

Each Monuments performance, which runs about 30 minutes, has a different theme that speaks to what the creators want to memorialize. There’s Defiance, which won’t give up in the face of tremendous obstacles; Innovation, which expresses hope and curiosity; and the Scribe, which remembers what has been lost; and more, which visitors will see as they visit the campus and our festival.

Theater can happen anywhere, and we hope that as both our invited and surprised audiences encounter our Monuments, they take a moment  to experience, and also to celebrate an artistic offering which has blossomed out of the privations of the pandemic and is available to anyone who has never made it inside of our building.

Details about the Monuments series are shared on our website, which offers direct links to register for the performances.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: