After canceling a year and a half of shows, The Clayton Center of the Arts 2021-2022 season has finally been scheduled.
Allison Parton and Hudson Perrine are the Clayton Center’s Event Coordinators. In case students were concerned about the safety of going to a theater, Parton says, “We are putting precautions in place, and we are selling under capacity, so there are ways to gain tickets that are significantly well-distanced from other people.”
The Clayton Center will be open at 50% capacity, with patrons required to wear masks and follow various social distancing requirements (three seats between each person, every other row). All people working with tickets and programs will be required to wear gloves.
Cheri Compton, the Director of Marketing and Sponsorships for the Clayton Center, says, “We’re sort-of at the mercy of COVID right now, but we plan to have everything possible in person.”
Maryville College’s theater majors finally get to participate in the main student stage play, “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress,” a story about bridesmaids at a wedding. Other exciting events include “Choir of Man,” with a cast of nine Irish men singing and dancing and telling stories on stage with a real bar, and “An Evening with Judy Collins,” about the life of an 82-year old performer, as well as Aquila Theatre’s “The Great Gatsby” and the American Spiritual Ensemble.
One of the hardest parts about this reopening is getting students involved.
“It seems sometimes like because we’re across Circle Drive, there’s a little disconnect,” Compton says.
She is working constantly to try to get more students involved in events and exhibits. It’s costly to get more popular artists in Clayton, but the team is regularly brainstorming new artists and shows directed towards students.
“We want the Maryville College community to enjoy everything we have,” Compton says, wishing more students and faculty would take advantage of their discounted tickets.
Students often have reserved $10 seats in the balcony that most don’t take advantage of, where most tickets can cost anywhere from $20 to $60. Compton also finds that few people know about the separate Clayton Center Website, which posts all information about upcoming events and ticket prices, including all upcoming events this season.
Although events at the Clayton Center were hard to come by in the past year, there were still several attempts at keeping the arts alive. The most popular online option was the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, a film documentary series where Q&As with the filmmaker happened after the film is shown.
Compton says, “We actually had more people watch [The Southern Circuit Tour Films] virtually than in person,” adding that five will still be shown virtually this fall.
Everyone at the Clayton Center, along with the COVID-19 workgroup on campus, is constantly brainstorming ways to safely keep this season open. There is something playing for everyone, so make sure to check out the Clayton Center website and attend some of the exciting events this year!