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Author: Sam Bradfield

Five free performing arts events to check out this fall at CU Boulder

Students are back on campus and classes have started, which means there are also opportunities to experience the performing arts around CU Boulder! The College of Music and Department of Theatre & Dance both offer dozens of performances every semester, many of which are free to attend.

Here are just five of the many free events happening on campus this fall that you won’t want to miss!

1. Faculty Tuesdays

(Multiple music genres | most Tuesdays August-March)

The College of Music will kick things off with its popular, long-running Faculty Tuesdays series. In this recital series, College of Music faculty artists perform chamber music with students, colleagues and guests, featuring a mix of world premieres and beloved classics. These free events take place most Tuesdays August through March in the Imig Music Building’s Grusin Music Hall. The first concert is Aug. 24, featuring Associate Professor of Trumpet Ryan Gardner and Associate Professor of Collaborative Piano Margaret McDonald.

2. Golden Buffalo Marching Band

(Pop music, classic rock and more | MWF, 5:20-7:20 p.m.)

A CU Boulder tradition like none other, the Golden Buffalo Marching Band (GBMB) is celebrating its 113th season in 2021! Experience the band’s magic during halftime at every home football game … and check out the Pearl Street Stampede on nights before game days where the GBMB previews musical highlights of the next day’s big event. You can even catch their practice on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings at Farrand Field or just enjoy their music echoing across campus.

“We are the tradition, heartbeat, spirit and pride of the campus,” said Matthew Dockendorf, associate director of bands and director of the GBMB. “We are one of the longest running organizations and most visible—and audible—student organizations. We are a true cross-section of the university with nearly every college represented within the band.

“Each season—between football, stampedes, basketball and volleyball—we perform at over 60 events. Nearly every major event on campus rings with the sound of the GBMB … and we can’t wait to get back into full force at our first home game on Sept. 3!”

The GBMB presents three programs this year:

“Love on Top” features music of the Beatles, Kool and the Gang, and Beyoncé. Dockendorf describes this show as “celebrating being back together, celebrating the belated 100th anniversary of the College of Music and spreading love.”

“Buffs in Space” is a partnership between the GBMB and the Department of Aerospace, featuring Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” and music from Richard Strauss and The Avengers.

The “Senior Tribute” is just as it sounds—dedicated to seniors “who have stuck with it,” says Dockendorf. “It [features] great music that we’ve played over the years and that they want to revisit.” In this program, you’ll experience music from Queen, Elton John and Bruno Mars.

Note: Members of the Silver Buffs alumni band will be invited to perform at halftime during the Homecoming game on Nov. 6.

3. “Gruesome Playground Injuries”

(A play by Rajiv Joseph | Sept. 17-19)

“Gruesome Playground Injuries” is a play that is not your typical love story. Written by Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Rajiv Joseph, the story follows Doug and Kayleen for decades after their first meeting in the nurse’s office in elementary school. She had a stomach ache; he took a running dive off the roof of the school; the rest is history.

The New York Times describes it as a story that, “follows the decades-spanning relationship of two made-for-each-other masochists who, between them, manage to slice, bloody, bruise and/or mutilate most parts of the human anatomy.

“In this context, when a boy asks a girl (or vice versa), ‘Can I touch it?,’ the ‘it’ in question is not in the usual erogenous zones. An open sore of some kind, or a newly emptied eye socket, is what draws Kayleen and Doug into mutual, fascinated exploration. Though their friendship remains, by conventional standards, platonic, these two know that physical agony can be more bonding than sex.”

“Gruesome Playground Injuries” will be presented by the Department of Theatre & Dance in the Acting Studio. In Acting Studio performances, audiences experience a variety of experimental works in an intimate black box theatre. Although the events are free, they do require a reservation, as each performance only seats a couple dozen audience members and often sell out in just a few days. Reserve your seat here.

4. “on Display”

(An interactive theatre performance | Nov. 12-14)

“on Display” is a devised performance from CU Theatre. In devised work, there is no predetermined script that actors secure in advance. Instead, the show is built through improv and collaboration throughout the rehearsal process, and the company presents the final piece they created together to audiences once it’s finished.

“on Display” will be an interactive, immersive gallery experience which tells stories that explore the topic of private rituals in public spaces and what it looks like when those rituals get put on display for the world’s consumption.

“Devised theatre pieces, like ‘on Display,’ represent the future of innovative theatre—creative processes where everyone in the room gets their voice heard and can assert their own artistic autonomy,” said Director Sarah Powers. “Often in theatre, especially at the university level, students are handed scripts and given direction telling them exactly what to say and do, resulting in a lack of truly creative, comfortable spaces for artists to explore and express themselves.

“Devised theatre allows student-artists to explore, while being met with grace and support from their collaborators. The creative team of ‘on Display’ is grateful to be producing this unique theatre project that highlights artistic autonomy among artists at CU Boulder.”

5. FRESH: Fall 2021

(Multiple dance genres | Dec. 3-4)

Round out a semester of free performances with FRESH, a dance recital of undergraduate and graduate CU Dance students.

According to Ondine Geary, former production, outreach and engagement liaison for the Department of Theatre & Dance, “FRESH is unique in that it is student-run and student-produced, so everything from the performances to the lights and sound to the program is managed by students. When you support FRESH, you’re supporting your student-peers and the next generation of artists, makers and technicians.”

FRESH will feature a variety of genres and styles, which reflect the diversity of the program. The performance draws from many lineages, such as ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, experimental, transcultural fusion, aerial and more.

“IIt’s like a sampler tray, in a sense,” said Geary. “You’ll experience small bites of lots of different approaches, backgrounds, voices and styles. It’s the place for choreographers to try out new and exciting ideas, which can be very freeing and fun. And audience-goers can feel the spirit of adventure in the less formal environment.”

Whatever kind of performances you love—classical music, experimental theatre, aerial dance—there’s something for everyone at CU Presents, and it doesn’t have to cost you a dime. Celebrate the new school year with a free event at cupresents.org.