Theater department looks forward to returning of students, renovations
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Theater department looks forward to returning of students, renovations

Coming back to campus will be different for every department after being away since the middle of March this year. However, for the USD Theatre Department, they will be returning to a newly renovated theater. 

The Knutson Theatre is set to be renovated this summer. So far, the renovations have not been postponed. Dr. Raimondo Genna, Chair of the theatre department, said. The project may end up being delayed if the COVID-19 situation worsens in South Dakota, however. 

“It will be completed. If the project is delayed, it will have an impact on our season, but we will adapt,” Genna said in an email interview with The Volante. “What is more important is that we do everything we can to make sure everyone is safe.”

Upgrades to the theater, Genna said, include a new rigging system above the stage, upgraded electrical system, new seats in the auditorium and a new paint job.  

“We are excited to see these renovations completed and improve the theatrical experience for our students, our USD audience members and for the greater community as a whole,” Genna said. 

If the COVID-19 situation worsens and the renovations are not able to be completed this summer, Genna said he will be very disappointed, as most of these renovations have been needed for many years. 

“If by chance it doesn’t get completed, although I believe it will, we will be disappointed,” Genna said. “The upgrades that we have scheduled have been needed for years now and we won’t know when we would have this opportunity again.”

The seats in the Knutson Theatre are from the seventies, so Genna said he is most excited for that upgrade. 

“All of the renovations are needed, but our current seats are the original seats … and are painful to sit in,” Genna said. “Such discomfort has a negative impact on audiences’ enjoyment of the shows.”

Beyond the renovations, Genna said he is simply excited to have his students back on campus. He said having to switch to online learning was challenging for both students and faculty, as much of the theater department is hands-on learning. 

“We did the best we could with our remote teaching but getting our students back on campus as soon as it is safe for everyone will be best for all of us,” Genna said. 

When classes were moved online, all USD-hosted events were cancelled through the rest of the semester. These events included Ron L. Moyer One-Act Festival and The Drowsy Chaperone show. 

Next year, after in-person classes resume, the theater department will begin working on their first show, William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. This show, along with Angels and Demons, will be held in the arena. 

The first production scheduled for the new Knutson Theatre is  A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, followed by A Man of No Importance. After that, the annual Ronald L. Moyer One-Act Festival will be held in the arena. 

The season will finish in the Knutson Theatre with She Kills Monsters and finally the bi-annual Spring Dance Showcase.