Theater students ask who they’re performing for after COVID-19 moves classes online

Theatre means a group of actual people, in an actual room at the same time. That’s the way Jason Pasqua learned how to do theater. That’s how everyone, in fact, learned how to do theater before the corona virus. 

“But that is not the way a pandemic wants you to do it,” Pasqua said and laughed. 

Pasqua is the Theater advisor and only instructor for theater at LCCC, and he, like many faculty, is finding himself having to adapt to a transition like this for the first time in his 15 years of teaching. 

“I have never taught online before,” he said. “I am the theater instructor, and theater means you gotta send me into the room with a bunch of other people and we do a thing. 

The mix of live people is what I live for. I want to run a room that is just filled with live energy and everyone feeding off each other, and somebody says this and then somebody says something else, and that’s who I am as a teacher, and I think that’s who I want my students to be as well, but here we are.” 

Some classes transition ‘easier’ to an online setting more than others, such as Intro to Theater, a class that’s more focused on lecture and discussion. It’s much easier to replicate that live experience into something such as Canvas or Zoom. 

However, other classes in theater are much harder to replicate in an online setting and will likely cause future issues for theater students, said theater major Brielle Bristol.

“It will probably seriously set me back,” Bristol said.“As a theater major, I have to be in face-to-face classes: There’s little to be done remotely, and most of our ’homework’ is practicing for live performances.”

Those “performances” are now recorded as monologues once a week.

Each department is managing the shift to online slightly differently. For example, other performance and studio classes such as music and art have had to be creative, said Jonathan Carrier, the dean of arts and humanities.

Courses from areas such as English, communication and Spanish still had to adapt, but all of those classes have been taught online before, so the shift was a bit easier for the instructors.

As for live performances, the spring production“Squirrels,” has been cancelled indefinitely as it’s too complex to continue at a later date. However, a second production, “Evening of One Acts,” that was also meant to take place this May will now take place this fall instead.

This isn’t something that anyone could have planned for or imagined but theater students and advisor Pasqua understand the  importance of social distancing even if it means that theater students will have to do their best to get it to work. 

“We’re doing this because it’s an emergency,” Pasqua said. “We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do, protecting people’s health. We cannot have large groups of people in rooms, it’s just not the right thing to do. Emergency measures are emergency measures, and I myself, theater in particular, simply cannot go away, and it cannot be done effectively in an online format.” said Pasqua.

It’s the same dichotomy that all instructors faced this semester. 

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