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Student Blog: Graduating in a Time of a Pandemic: A Performing Arts Student's Edition

COVID-19 was a hard pill to swallow for all of us, including a graduating Performing Arts student like me. Here is an insight into how it was like for me.

Student Blog: Graduating in a Time of a Pandemic: A Performing Arts Student's Edition

Graduating in a time of a Pandemic: A Performing Arts Student's Edition

As the well known saying goes, "the show must go on". But now that we're still living amidst a pandemic, until what extent does that saying hold true?

No one in their wildest dreams would have imagined that we would live in a time such as this. We all thought plagues were a thing of the past like in Shakespeare's time. But here we are! Living in both fear and hope with a virus that has created such catastrophic effects across the world. One of them would be the suspension of live theater. On the flip side, the lockdown has brought new beginnings and discoveries for the performing arts even to a student like me.

Early 2020, I had both classes and after school rehearsals for an original show about the school's founder. Other than that, I was very much looking forward to ending my college years with a Shakespearean production that was to be a combination of three different plays. I was finishing my junior year when suddenly all I thought to be normal was replaced with the "new normal". All the excitement was sucked out of me once I learned that the initial suspension of classes that was to last a week extended to become the first and strictest level of community quarantine in the country. Oh, how upsetting it was for all of us. My best friend and I were contemplating whether we just wait things out and not complete our last year by attending online classes. Who wants that? In the end, we both realized that we had no other choice but to spend our last days in college through our laptops in our homes. It was difficult to accept that life as we knew it would change in one instant. We were saddened and frustrated with the situation. Like with any circumstance, we are met with both the good and bad outcomes. What matters is whether we allow the negativity to consume us or we face it head on with the right attitude and spirit.

One thing's for sure, it was an advantage for me to work and complete my thesis during a time like this. Prior to the lockdown, students were required to spend money to travel to their interviewees. It definitely worked to my advantage having the internet as my way to reach out to people and conduct the interviews through Zoom. I managed to get all the data I needed for my review of related literature through online resources. It just made things easier and faster. However, the expectations are higher nowadays given the fact that we have the internet at our fingertips. In any case, what seemed to be a challenge turned into a great learning experience and stepping stone as I worked my way towards graduation.

Other than my thesis, I had my final acting classes to complete. One of them would be Film and Commercial Acting. Learning theater online is nothing compared to the real thing. To be honest, I was not looking forward to it. Fortunately, this particular class didn't require me to move around much unlike stage acting. Even so, it was disappointing for me to end my final days in college at home and far from the black box theater at our campus. To give you an idea, this is how it played out: my professor discussed terminology and techniques used by professionals for film and commercials. He would demonstrate approaches for a certain commercial whether it is for food or a shampoo. We would have some rehearsals which allowed me to practice what I just learned. Afterwards he would instruct me to complete a short "commercial". He provided tips and ideas and left me to my own devices. Everything was directed, produced, and acted by me. I had to think of scenarios that are related to the item that I was told to "advertise" for learning purposes. I changed characters, chose different camera shots, and edited the videos for submission.

Looking back at it now, it was not as hard or as dreadful as I thought it would be. What is great is that I was given the space to explore; I was given the freedom to execute according to what I saw as fit. Of course I had to do it mostly in the constraints of my bedroom but this forced me to become more creative and allowed me to discover other ways to fulfill the task set before me. I learned what it means to be adaptable and work on automatic pilot. On stage you can't always rely on your director to tell you what to do. You as the talent must take initiative and make your own sound choices unless your director tells you otherwise. I was simply applying what I learned from my past productions and translated it into what I did for my classes. Having online acting classes may have appeared to be anything but real theater, but with the support of the right people like my professor and the willingness to achieve to the best of my ability, training as a performer at home turned out to be a time of self-discovery.

Now that I am "grad-waiting", I am looking forward to what theater has in store for people like me. Hearing news of both Broadway and the West End raising their curtains again after what felt like an eternity of darkness has kept me and countless others hopeful. I only wish for the best and I know that theater will revive as it always has done from the both World Wars, to the Spanish Flu, to the Bubonic Plague, and more. For as long as COVID-19 exists, I believe that the internet is everybody's best friend, especially the arts. Theater will continue to be online which now gives way for those working full-time or living abroad to attend classes that much easier. As you can see, we may have dealt with a hard blow due to the pandemic but there was wisdom to be gained from it. Now that many things are online, theater is accessible to all. This will not replace the real thing but it allows us to easily share the passion and interest in the live arts more than ever before.

Besides what I have obtained from my online classes, the pandemic has taught me a handful of lessons. The most important one of all is to stay resilient. To be given the opportunity to study theater is one thing but to be part of an entire community that stood firm despite the struggle is another. I am honored to graduate with a major in performing arts. It just proves to the world that the show will go on for as long as we the actors, directors, makeup artists, technicians, and students continue to believe in it.

Student Blog: Graduating in a Time of a Pandemic: A Performing Arts Student's Edition

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