Online Drama Performances
How do you adapt a play’s rehearsals and performances from the theater to a computer screen? Through Parker faculty ingenuity, students were able to sharpen their dramatic craft for a whole new kind of performance venue.
Students are now TV/movie actors instead of stage actors! …They learned how to act to the camera, frame their faces in their computer screens, and mute and unmute their microphones at the proper times.
What does a drama rehearsal look like on Zoom? At first attempt, it was as chaotic as you might expect.
“Music and singing were challenges because sound travels at different speeds online, so it’s impossible to sing or hear music at precisely the same time,” explains Letty Robinson, Lower School drama teacher. “Singing in unison tends to sound pretty terrible, as everyone sings at not precisely the same time.”
In true Parker fashion, faculty and students alike quickly and nimbly adapted to finding a rehearsal technique that could keep singing and music in the plays. Robinson elaborates,
“For the Grade 4 play, I recorded myself singing the songs, asked my students to mute their microphones during the songs, and asked them to sing along with my voice in their homes so family members could hear and see them.
For Grade 3 students, I tried to improve on that model by pre-recording third-grade soloists and having their voices in the background as other third-graders sang along with them at home. This worked out well.”
From Stage to Screen…
Robinson helped students adapt to the computer screen by emphasizing techniques that “movie actors” use, rather than stage actors. Students learned how to act to the camera, frame their faces in their computer screens, and mute and unmute their microphones at the proper times.
Costumes & Props
For costumes, students’ family closets were the limits. “Costumes and props were whatever they came up with at home,” says Robinson. “I put no requirements on my students because of the situation we were all in, but was amazed to find that most students came up with very clever costumes and props on their own… a great lesson in creativity and perseverance!”
After completing their online performances, Robinson asked students their thoughts on performing their plays on Zoom. Most expressed that initially they were disappointed not to perform their plays in the typical setting of live on stage at the Lower School–but after having gone through the online process they enjoyed the new online format, learned new things about acting for the camera, and were happy to have found a way to perform their plays online. Surprisingly, Robinson shares, “A few even said they preferred it!”