I am currently a senior at CSU and am finishing up a BA in Theatre with a minor in Dance. However, in the current climate, experiencing our respective classes for me and others in my degree track has become increasingly difficult. In pursuing a performing arts degree, our classes are just that: performance based. I’m not just talking about acting or movement classes either; the technical theatre and design classes are suffering as well, if not more.
One of the main issues for everyone is that we no longer have access to the facilities that not only housed our classes, but also the materials necessary to accomplish our daily tasks properly. Some classes, like Stage Combat, can only be completed in person because of safety reasons. This class has been cancelled for the rest of the semester. For me, this situation hurt the most.
Stage Combat is a class that comes “once in a blue moon” for my degree track, as it is traditionally only offered to the seniors pursuing a BFA in Performance. This class was offered to BA’s for the first time in five years, and it was going exceedingly well. We had just begun learning the fight choreography for swordplay and still had quarterstaff to learn. Now that it’s over, I feel like all of our hard work has gone to waste. I like to finish what I start, especially if it goes well for me.
In the Theatre Practice courses, we learned hands-on application of technical skills as we helped prepare for season shows. Now that there are no shows to produce due to the current season and summer stock being cancelled, there is nothing to prepare for. As a result these classes have also ended abruptly. All hope is not lost, however.
A majority of the Theatre classes, as well as all Dance classes, have transitioned to meeting through online video conference platforms. It’s honestly pretty cool that we’re still able to go to class, even if it is in a non traditional setting. I will say, however, that it does make me miss having an actual studio space to dance in. Movement is limited in my now cleared out basement; it’s a bit hard to do a ballet barre exercise when I keep smacking my hands into a ceiling fan whenever they’re in high fifth position.
Students in acting classes have taken the current pandemic climate as an opportunity to challenge themselves. Some professors of acting classes have even gone as far as to make the circumstances of their scenes and exercises include the need for video chat. Now that’s what I call innovation. What’s interesting is that even in the absence of a physical classroom, acting students are still finding real moments and emotional life in their respective exercises.
What I find incredible is that even in times as hard as the current one, Theatre still finds a way to thrive and prosper. It makes me proud to be a part of the artistic community. Even so, I still miss being in a classroom or rehearsal space with my peers. But the funny thing is that being away from physical school makes me appreciate it and the people in it all the greater.
I’ve never truly understood until now the saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” In all honesty, I’m grateful for being taken away so abruptly because it has given me a better appreciation for what was left behind: my friends, my favorite professors, and the classes where I honed my skills. So of course I’m sad, but now I have hope for the future; the first chance I get to visit Columbus, I will most definitely be there. It’s the city that taught me how to do Theatre my way, and I didn’t get to say “thank you.” So when the turbulence ends, I’ll be back in the place I never expected to grow on me.