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If we build it, will they come?

When University High School returned to campus in August, theatre director Callie Hartz faced the biggest challenge of her career.

How can we safely do theatre in the middle of a pandemic? 

Other schools were planning shows where actors wore masks or shows without an audience. Some were cancelling their productions altogether. But Hartz found her inspiration in an unexpected place — the University High School soccer field. 

The University High School production of Clue would be an outdoor one. Hartz knew from the beginning that to pull off an outdoor show, it would require a massive community effort. The theatre team would have to build a stage from scratch, set up lights and speakers where none existed, and figure out how to power it all. They’d have to orient the stage so the sun wouldn’t be in the audience’s eyes. And they’d have to move up the show by a month to get it in before the weather got cold. 

There were dozens of reasons it shouldn’t have worked. But, unsurprisingly, it did. 

As she sat in her car after opening night — when rain fell and the crew had to hold umbrellas over lights and actors stayed in character despite the biting wind, when there was so much help to tear down that they ran out of jobs to do — Hartz cried tears of joy.

This year, the U Fund, University High School’s annual fund, is spotlighting stories of the University High School community rising to the occasion in the face of challenges. The specifics differ, but each example is united by the fact that our students and faculty are making magic happen each day thanks to philanthropy provided by the U Fund. If you haven’t done so already, please consider giving a gift to the U Fund, inspired in part by the StageBlazers, who found a way this fall for the show to go on.

Click the button above to give online now and help support all that makes University a resilient and thriving community.


View photos from The outdoor production of Clue