Q&A: Keeping the curtains up with drama
With the changes that the school has had to face through the implementation of distance learning, many of the performing arts organizations have had to restructure their practices and plans for the year. The Hoofprint interviewed drama teacher Joanne Karr about her experiences helping her classes adjust to the new situation.
Q: I heard that you’re actually the former adviser of drama and that you’re filling in for the time being. How has it been settling back into the position especially with these circumstances?
A: Yes, I was the drama teacher here 2000-2015, [until] I retired. I came when the theatre was brand new. Starting up the classes has not been much different, but the online thing is weird. It’s hard to know the students or to really see what they can do when they perform.
Q: What are some of the activities that drama class typically does at school and how have you implemented alternatives?
A: We are trying to do the same type of assignments as usual, but all performing has to be done alone. Almost any performance-based work is not as effective online. Students are recording themselves, which is a different medium than stage. And they can have a “redo” which doesn’t happen on stage.
Q: What are some of the difficulties the classes have faced about not being able to meet in person?
A: Many activities involved students working with each other and having an audience. Those things can’t happen very easily. There is no feedback — actors feed off their audiences. Theatre is all about being live; otherwise, you might as well go to the movies or watch TV.
Q: Compared to what events are usually set for the year, how have plans changed?
A: [There is] a festival students often attend [that] will be comprised of recorded pieces. Students sometimes go to elementary schools — if that happens, they’ll have to record the piece. We are looking into a virtual performance for the public.
Q: How do you feel about the effect that distance learning has had on drama?
A: Distance learning provides an opportunity to do more background work and to look into the academic areas of theatre, but that is a limited part of the drama program.
Q: What do you hope to still be able to teach to students in spite of the difficult situation?
A: Besides the above, [I want to teach them] to appreciate the magic of live theatre when they do get to do it again.
Compiled by Natalie Cheng, Arts editor
Photo courtesy of Joanne Karr