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BWW Blog: We're Back at School, and Honestly, I'm Scared

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So, what is theatre school like in a pandemic?

It is Day 2 of being back on campus at my university, and honestly, it is an odd feeling. After living back in my hometown for 5 months, it's pretty weird to be back. After a summer of mixed messages, of hearing that nothing is safe or that everything is safe - now we're just...back at school. My school, Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana, does have coronavirus guidelines in place.

So, what is theatre school like in a pandemic? Well, sort of the same and also inconceivably different. Usually, in this week before classes start we spend the entire week in rehearsals, building sets, and bonding with the new students. We are currently in rehearsals (sort of) there is no set to be built, as none of our shows are typical shows, and we can't really meet up with new students, so we are texting them and also waving at them from afar.

Our department has been doing socially distant rehearsals. There's one of us in a room at a time, and we are spending a lot of time working on our own on our material. We also are doing at home wellness exercises, doing yoga workouts every morning that are sent to us by the head of our department, as well as constructive rest every day! All of these things seem like they will be good preparation for the "real world" - we are focusing on learning things on our own and taking responsibility for everything we are doing from the get go! This is awesome.

Something the head of my department said to me the other day has been sticking with me though: Educational theatre is going to be on the forefront of how the industry is going to work going forward. Because our universities are going through with having class this semester, in person (for the time being at least), we are going through with having a season. Which is exciting and terrifying and inventive! All our performances are going to be in a virtual/digital format this semester. We as a department are going to do everything in our power to keep our patrons safe. This begs the question though...why is it up to students to figure this out for our professional counterparts? Are there not other, better ways? I'm not even here to say that I know what a better solution is, but I feel this is a question worth asking and sitting with.

If industry professionals are really relying on us, students and educational departments, to figure this out, why is that? Is it because if we lose money it's "safer" for security of the company than professionals? Are students "more expendable"? I don't think so, and I truly don't think anyone else does either. However, it is a little daunting, a global pandemic and a reality that we are guinea pigs for the future of our industry.

We're back at school, and honestly, I'm scared. I do not know what will happen. I would love to get the chance to perform in some capacity this semester. But I would love more to keep the people I love and those around me safe. I don't know what the right course of action is. But I do know we as artists will continue to strive for new, safe solutions that respect the safety and dignity of both artists and patrons.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Brittany Davis