Graduation is now behind us, but this year’s commencement and the final semester of many students’ college careers will be remembered for years to come. The resilience and diligence of our students when faced with unprecedented challenges has been nothing short of inspirational. Without the ability to honor these graduates in a usual commencement ceremony, programs within the Department of Theatre and Dance utilized new and creative ways to celebrate their seniors, including everything from car parades to socially distant yard processionals and Zoom celebrations.
UTeach Theatre Graduation Celebration
UTeach Theatre hosted a virtual celebration for their seniors in which 97 friends, family, faculty and students gathered via Zoom to share cherished memories and words of inspiration, complete with a slideshow to commemorate their four years together as a cohort. A few days later, faculty member Sara Simons held a small socially distant front yard processional for the graduates, awarding them each a special mug to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.” The video below includes slides from a slideshow created by Brian Nguyen and pictures from both events.
M.F.A in Playwriting and M.F.A. in Directing Car Parade
Our M.F.A. in Playwriting and M.F.A. in Directing graduates replaced their missing graduation processional with a car parade. Faculty and members of their graduate cohort surprised the graduates, driving by their residences, car horns blaring, and inviting them to join in the procession of cars. Their destination was a parking lot, where the group shared congratulations and heartfelt memories of their time at UT — a small but meaningful celebration of their hard work and achievements.
Dance Area Senior Send Off
With their traditional Senior Send Off transferred to an online setting, the dance department found new ways to honor their graduating seniors. Each graduate was sent a small gift and a virtual card with the kind and encouraging words that friends and faculty would normally share in person. Fellow students put together a skit and slideshow to commemorate their time in the department, which the group watched together over Zoom. The slideshow, some of which is included below, was created by Bridget Caston.
Performance as Public Practice Celebrations
Students obtaining a degree in Performance as Public Practice gathered via Zoom for a virtual toast to their four graduates. Additionally, each graduate made their individual thesis or dissertation defenses “public” so that friends, family and colleagues could support them. Viewers join in celebrating when each of the graduates were commended by advisors for successful defenses. Faculty member Rebecca Rossen shared that, “Even though these celebrations happened via Zoom, they were still filled with emotion.”
Live Design Social Media Spotlights
To highlight their graduating seniors, UT Live Design created individual spotlights on their social media channel for each graduate. Posts included their headshots and a few images of their work. In addition, all seniors were featured in this year’s National Design Portfolio Review and virtual Live Design Showcase, which concluded with a private sendoff via Zoom.
B.F.A. Actors Showcase Promo
After three years of rigorous training in Austin, our B.F.A. in Acting majors spent the majority of this past semester in Los Angeles training with esteemed faculty and industry professionals. Their studies culminated in the B.F.A. Actors Showcase, which was transferred to an online setting this year. Below is a promo for the showcase, which exemplifies their accomplishments, commitment to learning the craft of acting and outstanding work in their final semester.
Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities
DTYC faculty held a small socially distanced celebration for their three graduates. They gathered in Winship Circle with signs and graduation apparel made out of crepe paper for each student, dancing to music playing from an open car window and exchanging congratulations within their 6-foot areas. To show their heartfelt appreciation for the graduate students’ hard work, the faculty commissioned Lilah O’Dair, a youth artist, to create sculptures for each of them. The sculptures depicted three chairs, decorated with elements from their portfolios, on a small stage.
B.A. in Theatre and Dance Celebrations
Faculty and students graduating with a B.A. in Theatre and Dance found multiple different ways to close out their final semester. B.A. Stage Managers gathered via Zoom to reflect on their time at The University of Texas and their plans for the future, as did other groups of B.A. students. Many others took to Facebook, sharing their achievements and celebrating with their advisors. Head of the B.A. program, Rusty Cloyes, joined in on some of these segmented festivities. At one student’s graduation celebration he gave a speech, saying, “I know the world right now is a challenging place, especially so for the live entertainment industry, but we will come back. People are meant to be together and they will again join together in celebration. Our jobs will continue even if they look a little different.”
Thanking Graduating Student Workers
The Theatre and Dance Department’s staff sent each of their graduating coworkers a plaque to thank them for their hard work and dedication to the department. The plaques featured each student’s name, degree and favorite quote. These eight students dedicated so much time and energy to helping the department run smoothly, and these plaques served as a reminder of the staff’s appreciation.
Seniors Describe Their Time at UT in Three Words or Less
We at the Department of Theatre and Dance are so proud of our 2020 graduates and cannot wait to see the amazing ways they’ll change the world. Though the end of their college career may not have gone as planned, these students have made the most of their time at The University of Texas at Austin and have left with memories and skills that have prepared them for a bright future in the performing arts. To find out more about their collegiate experience, we asked them to describe their time at UT in three words or less. Below is a collection of their responses.