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BWW Blog: A Contingency Plan

BWW Blog: A Contingency Plan

Last semester was a season of continuous disappointment. Students had to leave college campuses, seniors never got closure, and productions were pushed off until finally being cancelled. Holding out hope for returning to school, only for that hope to be crushed made everything seem worse. As students prepare for next semester, bountiful questions remain. Will everyone actually return to campus? How can theatre-makers create art while staying safe? Is it worth going back to school, only to return home in a few weeks? These questions and more are swirling around in my own head.

I've come to the realization that the only way to ensure that this next semester doesn't turn out like the last is by making plans that are not contingent on staying at school.

If students put all their hopes and plans into remaining on campus, they will probably be let down. Disappointment is the last thing needed in a world filled with uncertainty. Personally, I'm still making plans for an on-campus semester. I've got many things to look forward to including, teaching a few drama classes, directing a show, taking illuminating classes, and spending time with some of my favorite people in the world. However, with all of my plans, I've tried to come up with alternative ways to make them happen, even if campuses close again. I'm calling these alternative ways a contingency plan.

My philosophy going into next semester is this: create plans in which I can easily pivot, if in fact the worst happens.

Simply put, I'm making a contingency plan. Merrium Webster defines contingency as, "an event (such as an emergency) that may but is not certain to occur." I have decided to not wait and see what happens; I'm actively making plans that can adapt to whatever situation I might find myself in. As you ponder the uncertainty that the next year will bring, create your own contingency plan by considering the following ideas.

Determine if a project can be converted to a virtual format or begin a new undertaking that's online.

There are many great online resources out there that will allow you to continue creating artist work while still being socially distanced. If you hope to direct or act in a play, check with the licensing agent in order to determine if the show can be done on Zoom. Consider devising your own piece of work that can easily pivot to a digital platform, if necessary. One-person plays are ideal for an online platform. I've been virtually directing another theatre-for-youth student in a one-woman show. The beauty of a virtual one-person show is that the actor is the only one that has to be in the room on performance day.

Think of artistic events that you can create with the purpose of bringing people together.

One of the things that many college artists struggled with last semester was the lack of connection. You can help by creating artistic projects that bring your theatre department together. Virtual play readings, new works festivals, or online discussions of musicals allow you and your fellow theatre-lovers to connect over art. This summer, two of my peers created weekly 48-hour play festivals featuring work that was student written, directed, and performed. All of this was virtual, but it still gave my department ways to work artistically and be together.

Since much is still uncertain, consider creating a project that can be long-standing.

We don't know how long this crazy time will last, and because of that it is important to consider projects that can become long term, if needed. Something like a video series or an online cabaret would not only fill your time, but could also continue even after things return to normal. Also, consider starting a project that could leave a legacy. The Samford Theatre for Youth program is planning on producing "variety shows" for children. These little shows will include storytelling, crafts, puppetry, and fun. This project is flexible, so Samford can produce as many shows as they want. It's important to have some projects that can bring joy for as long as our time away lasts.

Reflect on your learning goals for the year and find creative ways to obtain them.

Because of the impromptu departures from campus, many theatre professors scrambled to find ways to teach things online. This semester it will be important to plan ahead. Think of ways that you can still learn what you need in order to accomplish your future goals. For example, next semester I will be in a Stage Management class. Instead of relying on being in person to complete stage management tasks, I am looking into other ways to learn, such as reading books and potentially stage managing an online show. Thinking ahead in this way not only helps you, but it also gives ideas to your professors if they must navigate teaching more physical skills online.

Ultimately, look for ways to grow; pursue projects that will make you a better artist and person.

If the worst does happen, don't wait for everything to return to normal. Actively create, cultivate your craft, and grow into a better version of yourself. You will be better for it, and the world will be better for your art. If artists will continue to create in the current circumstances, then innovation, inspiration, and brilliance is bound to happen. So stop waiting and go make your contingency plan!

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From This Author Student Blogger: Audrey Myers