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BWW Blog: Top 7 Ways to Perform During the Pandemic

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BWW Blog: Top 7 Ways to Perform During the Pandemic

When COVID-19 first swept the country at the beginning of March, some productions were lucky enough to have one performance before cancelling the remainder of them. However, many others had their entire run postponed to a much later date or completely cancelled. While some productions managed to transition into the virtual landscape, the pandemic has still left many actors without shows to be a part of. However, not all hope is lost. There are still plenty of ways actors (and theater people in general) can show off their talents. Here are my Top 7 (because lucky 7 is my favorite number) in no particular order:

1. Create a Series on Social Media

Perform monologues, songs, new choreography. If you're particularly ambitious about this idea, you can create a web series of sorts. What I have decided to do is create a series called "The Selfisologues". I pick monologues I've always wanted to perform or that have relevance in regards to what's going on in my life and post them on Instagram. It's only for an audience of family and friends but it shows them that I've still been working towards what I'm passionate about. A couple of people that I know have even created art collectives on social media in which they get people to post work based on a given prompt. The possibilities for performative work on social media are endless and it's a great way to strengthen previous relationships and build new ones.

2. Create Your Own Virtual Play

If you're an expert on virtual platforms or are able to learn how to use one of them quickly, consider creating your own play on a platform like Zoom. You can perform alongside friends and family or spread the word about the play publicly on social media and meet performers you can potentially cast. One play that has become increasingly popular to perform online is She Kills Monsters. It's about a young woman who learns more about her deceased younger sister through a Dungeons and Dragons like game. The playwright recently released a version of the script specifically for performances on virtual platforms and the plays deals with relevant topics such as identity and one's sexuality. Creating your own play also gives you opportunities to focus on behind the scenes work such as design, directing and writing if you choose to write an original play. You can also hire crew members if needed. Overall, it can be a great learning experience and the relationships you form throughout the process can continue beyond the pandemic.

3. Sign Up For a Virtual Intensive

Many theater intensives have cancelled their summer programming but there are still a number of them that have moved online or have been specifically created in response to current events. If you have the financial means to do so, consider signing up for one of them. Theater intensives are being offered in a variety of topics. These online classes may not entirely be ideal, especially if you're in college and weren't too thrilled about the online theater classes your school did this past spring, but it's still an opportunity to study your craft. You can meet new people, see how they're handling everything that's happening right now and try and see if you can work with at least a couple of them in person once it's safe to do so.

4. Apply to Work From Home Jobs on Backstage

This is a popular website that posts new casting calls every single day. Shortly after the pandemic hit, they began to add an increasing number of acting gigs where you can do the job from home instead of having to travel to a set. There are gigs that are both paid and unpaid and some will even select anybody who submits to the project as long as they qualify. For example, one thing I was able to do through Backstage was perform and submit a monologue to an online series that was looking for anybody who was interested in performing monologues that were written by their team. The one major downside of Backstage is that you have to pay about $9.99 a month in order to apply to jobs through the website. So only do this if you have the financial means to do so.

5. Participate In or Create a "Bake-Off"

Playwright Paula Vogel was among the playwrights who created and participated in the first ever "Bake-Off" in 1984. The "Bake-Off" was a way for the playwrights to vent out their frustration that the only new plays done in New York seemed to be ones transferred from the Actors Theater of Louisville. In 2018, Vogel helped the "Bake-Offs" increase in popularity when she proposed a "Bake-Off" in response to the current politics and the 1896 political satire Ubu Roi. The "Bake-Offs" are now once again popular thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is probably because it's something that can easily be done remotely and takes some time to complete. You are given 48 hours to write a short play based on an assigned theme. You must include the four ingredients listed in the prompt and can add the optional fifth one for extra credit. After the 48 hours, everyone gathers to read all of the plays. In the event of a remote "Bake- Off", everyone submits their plays within 48 hours via email to an online panel who select a few plays to do a staged reading of via Zoom. This is therefore more of a writing opportunity rather than a performance one. However, the "Bake-Off' helps you exercise your imagination and you can perhaps further work on the play in the future. If you are looking for ways to increase performance opportunities, consider joining a similar event such as "Playdate" where everyone exchanges their plays with others and has the opportunity to create an artistic interpretation of someone else's play. Another idea is to host a "Bake-Off" with a smaller group of people where everyone will eventually have the chance to participate in the staged readings.

6. Join an Online Competition

BroadwayWorld just completed its NEXT ON STAGE competition and plans to host it again in the fall. High school and college musical theatre performers from across the country had the opportunity to perform songs via videos for a panel of Broadway professionals. Eventually, one high school student and one college student were declared the winners and their prizes include $1,000 to the charity of their choice and a recording session with Broadway Records. This is far from the only online competition though. Do some research and you should be able to find various of kinds of arts competitions that are about to begin or are being planned for the near future. Even if you don't win, it's still an opportunity to showcase your talent to a number of people and to get constructive feedback on how you can improve as a performer.

7. Go Outside In Costume

Okay this one might sound really silly but there are people out there who have done this. It's just something fun that can perhaps make the idea of going outside in the middle of a pandemic most likely with masks on a little less scary. You can definitely get creative with the costumes. And who knows? Maybe directors will see these photos and realize that you can portray a wide range of characters. That's probably not going to happen but you never know. And you know what they say "All the world's a stage".

So there you have it. My Top 7 ways to perform during the pandemic. This certainly isn't a list of the only ways you can though. Combine two or three of the ideas together, create your own performance outlet. Theater is all about creating out of the box ideas. Some people right now might not rely on the saying "The show must go on", but the show doesn't necessarily have to be on a stage. Theater can and always will stay alive in one way or another.

BWW Blog: Top 7 Ways to Perform During the Pandemic

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From This Author Student Blogger: Brigid Pfeifer