The cancellation of Little Shop of Horrors arose from a series of communication breakdowns between and within EXPLiCIT and the Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) department.
Officer turnover within EXPLiCIT led to an incomplete internal transfer of procedural knowledge, TACIT director Brian Brophy was inadvertently left off of some key emails, and a December-March maternity leave by the usual point of contact in the PVA office enabled a lack of information transfer. Although the Housing Office, which has jurisdiction over the Winnett balcony, approved our use of the space, the PVA department as a whole was not made aware of the show's existence until their planning meeting on March 9.
Based on concerns voiced at that meeting, Dean of Undergraduate Students Roderick Kiewiet canceled the show out of a stated concern that students already involved in other activities would overcommit themselves and become stretched too thin. (Carmina Burana, the main PVA event this spring, is an extremely ambitious undertaking: an hour-plus work for chorus and orchestra that is sung entirely in Latin and various forms of medieval German.)
We have discussed the series of unfortunate events leading up to this decision with Anneila Sargent, the Vice President for Student Affairs. She has assured us that the Caltech administration strongly supports musical theater on campus in general and student participation in particular. She also affirmed that learning to manage one's time is a vital part of the college experience.
The master PVA schedule for academic 2012-13 is now being worked out, and Dr. Sargent has invited EXPLiCIT to join the discussion. She has promised her full support in working with PVA to construct a schedule that is equitable to all parties. She also supports the possibility of staging Little Shop over the summer, while other PVA programs are on hiatus.
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF EVENTS:
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2011: Little Shop of Horrors selected as EXPLiCIT's spring show. TACIT director Brian Brophy was present and participated in the show selection.
SATURDAY, MARCH 3: Final performance of TACIT's winter show, The Rover.
TUESDAY, MARCH 6: Little Shop's first production meeting held. Performance dates of May 11-13 and 18-20 were chosen, with auditions on March 11 and 12. The Winnett balcony was selected for the venue, so as not to conflict with Carmina Burana's use of Ramo Auditorium. Brian Brophy was not notified in time to attend.
FRIDAY, MARCH 9: Brophy brought up Little Shop at the PVA planning meeting. Several people expressed surprise at its existence, and concern that it would interfere with Carmina Burana as well as jazz and wind ensemble events. Band director Bill Bing made these concerns known to Dean Kiewiet and to Dave Seal, Little Shop's producer, and expressed a desire to find non-conflicting times for Little Shop. A lunch meeting with PVA to discuss this was proposed for Monday, March 12.
SUNDAY EVENING, MARCH 11: Dean Kiewiet informed EXPLiCIT that neither a musical nor a stage play would be permitted spring term, and that the decision was nonnegotiable.
MONDAY MORNING, MARCH 12: A one-to-one meeting was booked between Dean Kiewiet and Seal for 1:30 Monday afternoon to discuss the situation. When undergrads expressed interest in attending, Dean Kiewiet canceled the meeting.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14 and MONDAY, MARCH 19: EXPLiCIT/ASCIT representatives met with Dr. Sargent, and the situation was resolved with EXPLiCIT being allowed to perform a stage play. We are deeply grateful to her for her efforts on our behalf, which included several hours of discussions with all concerned.
--The EXPLiCIT Officers
An article on this matter written by Samantha Piskiewicz for The Tech can be found at http://tech.caltech.edu/?p=3553