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BWW Blog: Throughout the Quarantine...

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BWW Blog: Throughout the Quarantine...

Finding ways to stay busy in the great big realm of theatre has never been a challenge and it still isn't now, it's just different. It's important to take the time to always breathe and relax but too much relaxing can lead to regression so staying involved is very important. Finding which new method will be the best fit for you can be a challenge that ultimately can be rendered using a process of elimination or trial and error. I've been involved not only in this student blogger position for but also in a virtual concert, a virtual production, a socially distanced production, and auditioning for many different online calls from rock the audition, Broadway's Next on Stage here on, and The Voice.

My last semester at Dutchess Community college the final performance for our private voice lessons was a virtual jury process and final showcase. This process was very similar to an actual jury process; we had tracks made by an accompanist and had a selected time to perform our final songs. Then we were sent a zoom video chat link to enter the room at our selected time and performed our selected material. In the room it was only you and the judges, no audience or extra members. This helped with connection issues. For me this transition was very smooth. I found that giving yourself a specific set up helps. Standing in the same place during your lessons, hanging a current behind you, and having your audio setup and music checked up on as part of your lesson; just ask your voice coach! The final results and comments were given via email and then came the virtual concert. The concert was a nice way to end the semester but also came with its fair share of connection issues as having the quantity of people connected to anyone video streaming service creates a fair share of problems. These issues can be helped if everyone who isn't performing at that specific time mutes and turns off their camera. I used the same exact setup as my lessons and jury for my final performance. The performance order was sent out via email before the show and each student was responsible for being connected for their performance time. The order was flexible in order to accommodate technical difficulties. The performance was a very good way to get a new look at your performance of a song and to still be able to connect with an audience.

I was involved in a production of No Child's by Nilaja Sun which would finally be performed virtually for just the cast and crew. This was effective in giving a good way to put an end to all the work put into the production, but not really in viewing the work itself which is definitely a big heart breaker. This platform was good for the circumstances but would require intense planning in order to be completely effective. It's very hard to orchestrate the technical aspect of things and keep for interference with so many screens at once. Most video streaming services also have a delay so the timing of a production can be off as well. Overall it's a good way to rehearse but not the most effective way to perform an extended work. This is different for each show's requirements as No Child's as a one woman show; which it was originally written as, could be executed very effectively over the virtual platform.

Recently I virtually auditioned for A Chorus Line at a local community theatre as well this audition paired with other auditions and workshops I've taken have given me some experience with the virtual platform. Let's talk about auditions from shows to contests and even college prescreens. When sending a video it's important to take multiple takes you may think it's a one and done but having options to send is a good way to ease your mind. If you're looking for more tips on self tapes check out Rock the Audition and Broadway Arts Collective these are two different organizations that have contests and workshops that I personally have taken part in over the quarantine and are pathways to a wealth of knowledge. Auditioning virtually can be stressful but it's just like in person auditions, you have to find what works best for you and the best way to do that is by actually doing it. Every audition I have done has been slightly different but they've ranged but multiple videos with no cuts or edits for college pre screenings or one singular video with no edits for many different self tape auditions and contests like rock the audition self tape challenge. I've also had cuts from shows sent to me to record and perform for my audition for A Chorus Line which was probably the most effective method I've seen for a show audition online. It was very simple to do, so a lot of submissions came in and people could take their time to really perfect their auditions. My audition for the Voice was very interesting and an unexpected process but a good learning process. It was a video chat that was then recorded. I was the only person in the room. It was timed for a minute and a half and then the video was sent. It was imperative that you were prepared before you started because you didn't get a lot of time to complete your audition and needed a prearranged and timed cut. The experience of an audition has changed but it requires the same preparation just with one minor twist, the technology. Which can easily be solved with a quick practice video before the day it is due to be submitted or with a quick video chat with a friend for zoom call auditions.

A socially distanced outdoor production of A Chorus Line, well let me tell you this was one way to navigate the times. I recently was cast as a cut dancer and swing for Paul in a local production of A Chorus Line. With temperature checks when entering rehearsals and the use of masks on and off stage and social distancing when not on the stage. We have been extremely safe while navigating the hurdles of putting on a production. The outdoor heat combined with the use of masks made rehearsing during the day impossible but the late night rehearsals were nothing new. The ability to continue performing has been so refreshing although the social distance is a little awkward at first while trying to build relationships with your fellow cast mates; it was well adjusted too. Starting the process with select rehearsals with only limited members of the cast gave people an opportunity to acquaint themselves with their material but keep the risks as low as possible. All props or costume pieces used are disinfected as well as any spaces used like bathrooms and most costume pieces are brought from home so each person can take the precautions they need to. The outdoor seating arrangement leads to perfect social distancing requirements because people can pick where they sit and easily move if they have too. The new challenges are that it's harder to control the lighting and sound when you're outdoors but nothing that the night sky and a little extra projection can't fix. Overall the trickiest part of this method is everyone has to be 100% on board to follow the rules and guidelines or it wont work, but when those guidelines are made very clear from the beginning it gives people a way to manage them better. Being very careful to separate the audience members from the cast. There are separate bathrooms and no "stagedoor" the actors simply get ready to go home for the night. Overall this method is definitely more effective if you have a space large enough to truly socially distance and a group willing to abide by the rules.

I encourage everyone to try some of the new methods out there today. Exposure will only lead to growth and it's important to always stay challenging yourself. Overall I've been able to continue my education in the arts throughout this pandemic by exposing myself to new mediums that fit the new times. It's because of this that I now have new ways of adapting and new experiences to diversity me as an artist and help me navigate the new educational system in my upcoming semester at Rider University.

See you next time, Ben

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From This Author Student Blogger: Benjamin Simonetty