Covid 19's impact on Cinderella
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For more than a century “The Show Must Go On” has been not just a mantra of theater people everywhere, it is a way of life. And, it is one of the most important reasons to teach theater to all students regardless of their future professions. I consider “The Show Must Go On” to be a way to teach students to develop the concept “Grit” that has been identified by researchers such as Angela Duckworth as one of the most important indicators of success. That is why I am not ready to cancel our upcoming performance of Cinderella¸ at least not yet.
Theater is a community event. That’s a feature, not a bug. It’s why theater still exists even in the face of film and television which are really more efficient ways to entertain and make money doing it. In fact, while home entertainment has gotten more and more convenient, amateur theater has grown to unprecedented levels. As humans, we want to share arts and the stories they tell with our community. But, thanks to the coronavirus, community events are off limits right now and we don’t know how long it will be before we can begin enjoying them again.
At the moment, our scheduled performance date is 6 weeks away while current restrictions are in place for two weeks. We have no idea if the restrictions will be lifted in two weeks or even made more strict until the end of the school year and beyond. But, if we are able to meet in large groups again before the end of the school year, it will be good to be prepared. I can envision many gritty measures and adaptations to our plans that could allow this to happen. They can include, but are not limited to:
Changing the dates of the performances (even as late as the first week of June)
Live streaming the performances (assuming we can get permission from the district for our cast of 70 to meet together and permission from the licensing company.)
Simplifying production elements as necessary.
Rehearsing using remote technology as needed.
In addition to the Governor’s recommendations, the SLC school district has given us restrictions within which to work. As I look at the restrictions, the show-must-go-on voice within me is already looking at ways to adapt rehearsals and preparations to things which are allowed. So far, this is all that’s allowed:
Classes are still in session, so any preparation we can do during class time will be done.
Outdoor practices are allowed for teams under 50. So, if this window of opportunity stays open, we may hold small group rehearsals outside as the fresh air blows all the germs away from us.
Volunteers aren’t allowed in the building at any time, but I do have several scenery and costume assignments that families can work on at home. More to come.
Remote learning will be important in coming weeks. While we can’t rehearse a complete show remotely, we will do a few things. We have a system in place for students to learn their vocal parts from any computer. Watch for upcoming details on how to practice your vocal parts at home. Also, we will be posting videos of the choreography. And of course, people with lines have scripts. Books are the original remote learning device.
Worst case scenario is, of course, that restrictions will not be lifted until every window of opportunity to perform this show has passed. But, will all our efforts have been wasted? No. Definitely not. Our ultimate product was never the show in the first place. That was just a means to an end. Our ultimate product is skills, talents and grit in the students who participate.
The human brain is amazing. All the learning we ever do, even learning things we don’t directly use later, just make our brain better at learning the next thing. No matter how this goes down, continuing to learn roles for the show will only edify. Learning roles under these conditions of uncertainty will most definitely help prepare students to deal with crises in the future.
All this said, it is of utmost importance that students and their families feel they are engaging in the correct amounts of social distancing. Please do not attend even these outdoor rehearsals or regular classes if you are feeling ill or if doing so makes you feel unsafe or vulnerable. As always, your input is welcome.
More information to come next week.