ISU Theatre’s spring production of Patricia Resnick and Dolly Parton’s musical 9 to 5 was slated to open on April 3, 2020—a female-written, female-centric musical celebration within our year-long HERoic season. In response to the ever-shifting University response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show’s opening night moved first to April 24, and then momentarily to October 2, 2020 before being cancelled this summer. Even after realizing that there was not a legal or safe way for ISU Theatre to rehearse and re-mount our long-delayed production this fall in any live, live-streamed, or digital way, our decision to cancel 9 to 5 was a devastating one. In a year that has been marked by so many forms of loss, it was disappointing to see the thousands of hours of work that had been poured into this musical since late January disappear overnight.
However, in the spirit of ISU Theatre’s 2020-2021 Season of Invitation, we invite you to discover and explore what was and could have been through our Imagined Performance: 9 to 5.
With generous support from the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities at Iowa State University through their Sheltering the Storm: Processing COVID-19 Grant, this project was conceived of as a “shelter” for our collective memory of making and unmaking theatre during the era of COVID-19.
For some of the graduating student performers and designers, this Imagined Performance can serve a final opportunity to showcase their creative work. For the design faculty and production team, this Imagined Performance can serve as a document for our research and professional practice. For all of us at ISU Theatre and you our audience, this Imagined Performance can serve as an alternative celebration for our production’s necessarily incomplete journey to opening night.
Gorgeously designed by graphic designer Alyson O’Hara to emulate the look and feel of a catalog from the 1980s, we hope it evokes the joy and nostalgia that coursed through our entire production.