By Mallory Harris | Editor-in-chief
As COVID-19 has shut down the performing arts across the country, several TV shows and films have worked together safely to continue producing public entertainment. The arts are learning to adapt to what technology developed during the pandemic. The Department of Theater Arts is looking forward to this semester with new productions and expectations.
“Both in the fall and in the spring, we do productions with student actors, designers and technicians. They just look different, ”said Dr DeAnna Toten Beard, chair of the Department of Theater Arts.
With four productions slated for this semester, Beard said the department is excited to be working. She said rehearsing, building sets and designing productions is a school for these students, so it’s important that they can do it safely.
During rehearsals, there are strict rules regarding mask wearing, social distancing, and air purification systems. When performance is near, there are specific protocols that allow students to perform without a mask after a negative COVID-19 test result.
Beard said the four productions planned this semester will be conducted under this protocol. Three of them will be recorded and presented virtually and one will be preformed outdoors. One was written and directed by faculty member Stan Denman, and another was directed by a graduate student.
“Making the productions is a big part of how our students learn; They learn to make sets and costumes and to hang lights. They learn to act. They learn how to direct, by doing things in class and then applying them in the production lab, ”said Beard. “So we can’t not do that and call it ‘good training’. “
Houston senior Peyton Wood said she was grateful to the faculty in the department as they are committed to providing education with all of these guidelines.
While the students were still performing in the fall 2020 semester, Wood said it was on a smaller scale than usual. She said they’ve since learned how to safely rehearse while adding a few more people for specific pieces.
While Beard teaches theater history as part of the program, she has said that being in class is her favorite part of her job. She said the theater is important because it is a medium through which artists can share stories within the community. Beard also said that the link between storytelling and human well-being within social groups is essential in today’s world.
By developing curiosity, artistry and daring in their students, as well as seeking inclusiveness and diversity in the industry, the mission of the theater department indicates that they strive to develop a very strong community. united.
“Live theater – even live theater broadcast on a computer – provides a way to engage with others and safely explore the lives of other humans so that we can exercise our muscles of empathy and compassion. “said Beard.