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Student Blog: Does Anybody Have a Map? An Insight into Learning in the New Normal for an Undergraduate

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Ever wonder what it must be like for the younger students going through online school? They were excited for many things, then everything stopped because of COVID.

Student Blog: Does Anybody Have a Map? An Insight into Learning in the New Normal for an Undergraduate In life, I believe that it is always good to be aware of the different perspectives there may be towards scenarios like the phenomenon we are currently facing. I find it vital to take the initiative to reach out to others and get their opinions or insights. This is how we as a species get to evolve from the past and learn from it. I have already shared with you my side of things when it came to online learning and graduating during a pandemic. This time around, I wanted to take the time to see things through another set of lenses; I want to get an idea of how the younger students are holding up. I was able to ask my friend, Monique, an incoming junior performing arts major, how things are like now that we are dealing with the "new normal".

Student Blog: Does Anybody Have a Map? An Insight into Learning in the New Normal for an Undergraduate Just to give a bit of a background, Monique and I worked alongside each other for my first self-produced play of Trifles by American playwright Susan Glaspell. I acted as Mrs. Peters and she was Mrs. Hale. We savored every moment being in the black box and working hand in hand with each other's lines and emotions. That was an exciting time of our college life. We were so looking forward to working together again for the Shakespearean play set for November 2020. Our exhilaration was crushed once things got serious about the lockdown and community quarantine last year in March. In the meantime, she and her batchmates have to endure the difficulty of learning theater online until what may be their graduation. Knowing all of this, I took the opportunity to discover how she views the current situation.

I asked her to describe the whole online learning experience in one word or phrase. She came up with "conflicting". She explained further that the online learning has become a conflicting process because a lot of what they had to do is a lot more aligned with film instead of theater. Having to video and edit, it just does not carry the same essence of theater or live theater at that. The feeling of conflict also applies internally because of the nuances she said. She goes on to tell me that the learning process has been very difficult because "it's just not the same". What she means to say is that the way they have to learn in connection to theater is detached from how theater actually functions.

On the question of the most challenging aspect of online learning, she shared how everything has to be recorded. All of her assignments needed shoots and this required numerous takes before getting the right one. I can relate to this as I had to film myself doing Shylock's or Blanche DuBois' monologues. It can get frustrating because you can't help but criticize yourself whenever you review the finished take. Whether it is the fluctuation of the voice or one's stance may appear to be too lazy or too stiff, it has become more of training for TV or movie than live theater. And as Monique noted, it is nothing compared to theater. Yes, we have to memorize lines and rehearse, but it lacks the rawness of a live performance when each one can be different than the last.

Nevertheless, she looks forward to the idea of navigating through cyberspace which includes collaborating with other organizations. For the past year, she saw how the love of theater as an art brought people together online. It is because of the present circumstances that groups try to revitalize theater through the internet. With this comes the "the show must go on" attitude which they endeavor to continue. The spirit of hope is still evident among students and theater goers with the help of social media. Although it is disappointing to have theater done through the screen, it is still a great attempt to keep it alive while the world is slowly recovering from the losses over the past year.

I was told that life was never meant to be easy and undeniably it has been a hard time for all of us. Looking at how things have been for the past year and a half, it definitely resonates with the times when we were at our lowest or even worse. However, despite the present we have to consider our future. My friend Monique has a peg to refer to whenever she is faced with adversity: herself. We are pushed to the limits to gain a posteriori experience which will serve as our tools for the future. As Monique and the younger students are dealing with the online learning environment for theater, they can work towards doing the best they can and develop themselves from there. Although it is not ideal, one must accept and adapt to survive. Many times we wished there was a map or a guide to follow when we are faced with turmoil, but then again life was meant to be hard. Perhaps it is so that we may move forward with better knowledge in the form of armor for the next battle. In the end, we are always given a choice: move forward or be left behind. Theater may have significantly suffered but it is through the resilience of students like Monique that we will see live performances come back to life.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Alexandra Boccone