Theatre students and faculty adjust to online learning


File Photo/The Lion's Roar

The Department of Visual Art + Design will begin a new Bachelor of Arts Degree in theatre in the summer of 2022.

Since some classes require both in-person and hands-on interaction, many teachers have found it difficult to teach in an online setting.

The mid-semester switch from face-to-face classes has proven to be a challenge for theatre students and faculty. Acting teachers have adapted their coursework to an online format by critiquing video performances and putting emphasis on other aspects of their acting classes.

Chad Winters, instructor of theatre, commented on the challenges associated with teaching theatre online.

“Acting is the most challenging because it’s a class where students spend all semester doing physical exercises on the stage,” said Winters. “With the transition online, we are able to critique more acting by watching performances, explore script analysis in more depth, have discussions and writing about prominent acting techniques.”

Winters commented on how his students have handled the transition.

“The students have all risen to the challenge,” shared Winters. “They have been working hard and submitting homework through videos and written responses. The class online has found a good balance between doing acting exercises and researching different acting techniques.”

Alpha Psi Omega is a theatre organization meant to stimulate interest in theatre activities on campus. Like all other clubs, APO has been affected by the transition away from face-to-face classes.

Amy Schneida, junior biological science major and festivities committee head for APO, commented on how the club has been affected by the pandemic.

“We’ve been meeting up at our normal meeting times on Zoom just to see everyone and keep updated, but it’s not the same,” said Schneida. “Three of our four officers are graduating seniors, so they’re pretty bummed about their last semester with APO being cut short.”

“The Tooth of Crime,” the theatre department’s second play of the semester, has been postponed until next semester.

“Our actors were incredibly bummed,” explained Schneida. “The actors have been hunkering down with their scripts and using this extra time to explore their characters a lot more in-depth than they would have in our normal rehearsal process. They’re incredibly dedicated and passionate.”

DeJuan James, senior elementary education major and APO treasurer, commented on how he has been using his time away from the stage.

“The alternatives that I’ve found have been reading more plays than usual,” shared James. “I’ve been able to access different scripts to read in my spare time whenever I’m not doing homework, and it makes me more eager to get back to performing.”

Winters commented on what improvements could be made if online classes continue into the fall semester.

“Obviously, there is a little bit of a learning curve with the transition to online teaching, and if it should continue, I will keep looking for new technologies that will help to enhance and improve these classes,” said Winters. “Online Acting becomes a class that explores theory with as much hands-on as it will allow, which is still a great educational experience.”

As all clubs and departments grapple with the changes brought on by the pandemic, Alpha Psi Omega and the theatre department have adjusted by using their spare time to prepare for next semester.