Peeking Behind the Curtain

As our unique school year progresses, the Theater Department has found creative ways to interact with their students on Zoom. With virtual performances, readings, and ongoing assignments, students are still able to have the bond making experience that this performing art provides. Although some students do benefit from some of the changes, as collaborative as theater is, there are hardships when it comes to performing virtually as students and teachers alike have to “find their light”. 

Many students who are naturally more introverted benefit from the changes from virtual class this year. According to Ms.Ludlow, they receive more “paperwork, character building, powerpoints, and scene building assignments”. When they do need to perform, it doesn’t even have to be live in front of the class. They have the choice to “have it be a recording or perform on the live zoom call”. To have the option to record it, and make sure the one take that is close to perfect is submitted, can be comforting to those students.

One of the major questions that the Theater Department and Ms. Ludlow have grappled with this year is, “Is this even still theater” when it’s over Zoom? It becomes difficult when students have to do a scene together and it is, “awkward to be looking at the camera because [students] want to be able to look at their scene partner,” said Ms. Ludlow. Ms. Ludlow was pleased that students were trying to look at each other and try to make it as close to an in person scene as possible but added that, “when you look at your scene partner and all you have is the little Zoom camera, you lose so much more”. The impact of scenes can change with the challenge of how much you can see with the Zoom camera. Now how actors and actresses choose to portray a character becomes so much more important.

Students have been able to tackle other aspects of theater as well.  For example, interpretation of a character, choices in their tone, and how an audience can understand a character's personality. They have gained interest in subtle acting and now learn how to build on the character they are given. Ms. Ludlow added, “What’s wonderful is that we have been able to explore more things with realism.” With the Zoom frame being really small, actors and actresses have become more self aware. Any small facial expressions in “Zoom acting” will show and will be more powerful when it comes to performing virtually. As students adapt to the pandemic, they continue to grow not only as performers but as individuals within the Theater Department.

Source: Maspeth Messenger