Published June 25, 2020
Students were working on a live, multidisciplinary production with UB alumnus Alan Zweibel, College of Arts and Sciences Visiting Professor in the Arts and five-time Emmy Award-winning original writer for “Saturday Night Live.” Then COVID-19 shifted the university from in-person instruction to online learning.
The project originally was set as a creative research theater workshop, with three workshop sessions taking place on campus during the spring semester and concluding in May with an artist brunch and student performances ─ all inspired by “Bunny Bunny,” Zweibel’s memoir that he later adapted for the New York stage about his friendship with original SNL cast member Gilda Radner.
But as the saying goes, the show must go on.
The performances were adapted from their original format to a virtual space to allow for social distancing while challenging the students to get creative in a new and exciting way. That’s when the Creative Research Lab went into full gear.
Pivoting to video, playwriting, animation and Zoom, and with weekly workshops with Zweibel via videoconferencing, the Creative Research Lab came together as a variety show inspired by Zweibel’s multi-faceted career, especially drawing upon his work with SNL in the early 1970s. The video compilation went live on May 29 on the UB Arts Collaboratory Instagram account via IGTV.
The lab was led by Maria S. Horne, associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, together with Zweibel and Bronwyn Keenan, director of the UB Arts Collaboratory, an innovative strategic initiative that fosters collaboration and experimentation across the university and Buffalo.
“It has been very intense and very much a collaborative experience,” including fully immersive weekend sessions, says Horne. During both the in-person sessions and the transition to online workshops, Horne says she was pleased to have had 100% attendance from her students.
With the assistance of instructors and students from the Department of Media Study, a documentary piece that highlights the student work will be assembled to share online at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester.