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BWW Blog: A Zoomtastical Production - The Rehearsal Process

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Putting on a show during a pandemic? Impossible, right? Well, not entirely!

This semester, I was assigned to act as an Assistant Director for my school's production of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Ever since my school announced this production as part of our fall season, I had my eye out on this position for this particular show. I was ready to work!

However, what I wasn't ready for was putting on a production during a global pandemic. You see, when our season was announced, we were all hopeful the pandemic would have subdued. Well, we were wrong, so we had to get a little creative.

I was ready to work! In a pandemic? Putting on a show during a pandemic? Impossible, right? Well, not entirely! "A Zoomtastical Production" is a new series of mine that will contain several blogs, exploring my journey of creating art during the COVID-19 pandemic. To begin, let's discuss the rehearsal process for our virtual production of It's a Wonderful Life.

Following the guidelines of my university and those of CDC, all of our rehearsals for this production took place over Zoom, an online video-based chat service. For every rehearsal, students tuned in from various locations; dorms, homes, apartments, rehearsal spaces, and even in their work's basements. Students were called mostly according to scene, sometimes being called for over three hours to only ten minutes. The process was anything but normal, presenting new challenges along the way.

Of course, throughout the rehearsal process, we had many technical issues, like wifi or lack of. However, what surprised me was the number of benefits we discovered utilizing Zoom.

Allowing students to come in and out of rehearsal and separating into breakout rooms are just some of Zoom's advantages. Most importantly, I believe that working in the comfort of one's own space brought another level of support for each of the actors. Dismissing notions of judgement, the actors made choices for themselves rather than what they believed the director wanted. In this way, many of their performances proved to be natural yet authentic.

Yet, the main challenge with Zoom rehearsals is creating that sense of connection with the other performers on the screen. Although we tried many different tactics to combat this issue, nothing can replace seeing others face to face.

In the next blog, get prepared for the filming of this virtual production...IN PERSON! How did we film a COVID-19 safe, virtual production you may ask? Stay tuned to find out!
For information about Point Park's production of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, click HERE.

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