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Student Blog: The Future of Theatre...?

"The show MUST go on!"

Student Blog: The Future of Theatre...?
Photo of the cast doing a TikTok
dance while on break during filming!

It has officially been an entire year since the world shut down and the pandemic altered the way our society functions. It feels as if all of this madness had only just begun a few months ago. I remember being on my spring break last year receiving the unfortunate email stating that school would be moved online for the remainder of the spring semester. It was as if time had stopped and the only thought on my mind was: "What's next?"

As I began to take my performing arts classes online, I was also grappling with the harsh reality that Broadway, non-profit regional theatre companies, college theatre, and children's theatre groups as we know it would be shut down for a while. No one knew at the time when it would return. It was a scary moment to realize that I was continuing my education in a performing arts major for an industry that was currently not operating. It was certainly challenging to stay motivated when the constant "what-if's" were swarming my head 24/7. I had no idea what the future of the performing arts industry would look like- which is probably simultaneously both the most exciting and terrifying thing to imagine. The possibilities are endless, but the question remained: "How will we do it?"

The pandemic continued on and as many artists realized that they would most likely be in this situation for the long haul, they began to take action. Zoom productions started to arise, as well as socially-distant shows with limited audiences, filmed productions, outdoor performances, and even shows through social media platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok. It was thrilling to witness how the theatre community was overcoming the obstacles that the universe had thrown at them. Since the commencement of this new form of making art, we as a society have been introduced to a myriad of new ways to create, produce, and share theatre, music, dance, and more.

When the school year started, my theatre department at Long Island University Post began to develop and discover ways to rehearse, create, perform, and share live theatre based on the restrictions and advising provided by the CDC and health professionals. We have safely produced several pre-recorded shows such as Roe, musical cabarets featuring the work of Sondheim and David Bowie, Polaroid Stories, Lizzie The Musical, numerous pieces of devised work, and so much more through Zoom. While I miss performing live in front of an audience, it has definitely been exciting exploring this new realm of theatre.

I just ended the rehearsal and filming process for the production I am involved in at LIU Post, so I wanted to take you all through the process and go into greater detail about how my school in particular is continuing to create theatre in our current-pandemic world. This semester, I was beyond grateful to be a part of a play called The Wolves written by Sarah DeLappe. Our fabulous cast was directed by the amazing Kylie Brown and assistant directed by the incredible Izzy Ochocki (both current Seniors at LIU Post).

The show, originally produced in 2016, follows a group of high school girls on an indoor soccer team during their weekly pre-game warm-up sessions. The play shows the girls discussing events of their own lives while simultaneously trying to understand the politics of the whole world, all while preparing for a soccer game. Topics such as menstruation, genocide, sports, pop culture, and their personal relationships are all featured in the show; the girls are able to bond together despite the struggles and hardships that they endure.

Auditions and callbacks for this show took place over winter break via filmed self-tapes and Zoom. Once the show was cast, we immediately began rehearsals on the first day of classes. Luckily, most of our rehearsals were able to occur in person following covid-guidelines, with the exception of two Zoom rehearsals (due to school snow days). In the rehearsal room, everyone was required to wear a mask and follow social-distancing protocols. No matter if we were blocking the show, doing a table read, or even on a five minute break, we stayed 6 feet apart- even if it meant altering the stage directions. All windows and doors of the theatre remained open to help circulate the air flow. While it was challenging developing the show in a way that was covid-safe, it was certainly not impossible and we were still able to connect with our scene partners during the show, even with the masks and distance between us.

Student Blog: The Future of Theatre...?
Filming for The Wolves.

For this particular production, we were gifted with the opportunity for the show to be professionally filmed and then uploaded to a streaming platform that viewers can access with a special link and passcode. The department had done this with the shows last semester, so it was the best route to go with. I was nervous going into filming days for the show, because I had never been a part of a filmed production before. Of course I have made silly youtube vlogs with my friends in the past or have had my shows filmed in front of a live audience, but I never formally had the chance to work with a professional videographer on a project.

Student Blog: The Future of Theatre...?
Filming Scene 2 of the show outside.

Filming The Wolves was quite possibly one of the most crazy, chaotic (in a good way), and exciting things that I have done in my life. Filming a show is an entirely different ball park than performing in front of a live audience. When filming, you don't receive feedback or reactions from a live audience. However, there is more space for mistakes and to re-do certain shots. Our designated days to film took place over the weekend, and each day was roughly 10 hours long. On the first day, we filmed the show from start to finish using three different stationary camera angles. After almost the whole show was filmed, we then began to play around with various different camera angles and close-ups. This is when everything started to get crazy. We started to perform the show out of order, focusing on small moments within each scene and even going backwards chronologically through one of the scenes. While it threw me off at first, as when you are performing a live show you normally go in order of the show's events, I was able to get a handle on it pretty quick. We did some outdoor shots and filmed certain scenes with a moving camera as well. It was strange to have a camera watching my every move and filming a certain scene over and over again, but it was cool to feel like I was on a film-set for a day while still experiencing the standard pre-show jitters that I normally have before a live show.

After filming was done, the space was cleaned and we kissed the show goodbye. It is currently being edited and the play will be streamed to everyone on March 19-21! While it was not the same process that one would go through while creating and performing a play, it was the opportunity of a lifetime and such an amazing and eye-opening experience. Working on this show taught me a lot about myself as a performer and a person, but it also showed me that theatre is still alive and well. It gave me a sneak peek into what the theatre industry could look like and how it could evolve as we continue to forge through these unfortunate times.

While I am anxiously waiting for live theatre and events to return, I am eager to see how this industry and creative community will continue to embrace and push past the challenges that are thrown at them. With the advancement of technology, theatre makers and artists alike now have the opportunity to film and broadcast live art to an even wider audience than before. Theatre can now be more accessible to the masses and can be produced on a much larger scale. With technology and the internet becoming a more influential component within the theatre community, I am excited to see what the future holds for making art as we continue to keep pushing past the perceived limitations.Student Blog: The Future of Theatre...?

{Just a quick little promotion for The Wolves: I am beyond proud and excited to share this project with everyone, as our entire cast, crew, and creative team has poured so much heart, soul, sweat, and tears into this production. We have created something truly special and I hope that you will all tune in to see it! Email Post-Theatre@liu.edu and specify that you would like to be added to the reservation list for The Wolves. It will be streaming March 19-21! See you at the virtual theater!}


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