The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:
How do we put on a play or a live production during a pandemic? How do we as artists make beautiful art during a pandemic?
We decided early on during the pandemic that we knew we needed to create art. What is live theater? Live theater to the young people of MAHC Children’s Theater is to conduct ourselves in a professional manner at all times. As a director and music director we knew that connection and high standards is the most important quality to bring about a beautiful production. We auditioned on Zoom and held our rehearsals on Zoom We did not focus on the pandemic or talk about the changes. We focused on creating art in a new platform and held high standards. The kids rose to the challenge. We had 20 kids show up every day- 5 days a week after school via Zoom – to create art. We had physical warm ups, vocal warm ups, read lines and built a strong ensemble. We knew we were going to record live outside without masks and we were training for a 3 day photo shoot. We stayed focused on the performance and adhered to our high quality of production.
At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:
I had to learn to use my face and voice to tell a story.
When we were live recording and shooting photos of dramatic poses and it was 30 degrees F. I had to adapt to being cold and using that for my character.
I have auditioned 4 times and this is the first time I was cast and I had a felling it would be over Zoom. I had to change what i thought we would be doing and not get to be at the theatre.
Strong choices were that I had to learn to act without the immediate feedback of an audience.
The answer is the same as live rehearsals – I have to practice to fully prepare for a performance.
This was a new experience and we were the first ones to do this. We stayed professional.
We had a lot of new kids and we had to support them and help them feel strong.
We met with the song writer of the play via Zoom and we made a podcast. We learned why she wrote the songs for GRETEL! and we got to connect on a deeper level and share with people all over the country.
As i write this report I find myself in tears as I reflect on what we created. The story and how we created art during a pandemic still opens my heart. One of the parents told me this project, “saved my child’s life.” These kids were isolated and we connected through art. We had secured a beautiful location to film/photograph our project at Mavens Haven and this was about an hour and a half drive. Well, there was a snow storm and families drove out and it took over 3 hours each way for 3 days – back and forth between Donnelly and Lucille ID. When I would arrive each morning – families were already there wearing masks – building fires, making food, setting up warming tents and kids were going over lines – encouraging one another. We made beautiful art together and connected during a pandemic.
My reflection on the project is I wouldn’t do anything different. I feel grateful that we were given this opportunity to connect through the arts and not focus on the pandemic. My ultimate goal was that we made beautiful art. I wanted us to look back and be proud of what we made and then as a second thought – we made this during a pandemic. My favorite part of the project was watching the actors hold their drama poses in beautiful costumes in a natural environment suited to the play/musical itself. We recorded the lines on site and added missed lines over Zoom on Garage Band. We had live showings of our production over Zoom and the cast showed up virtually every performance and were dressed up and answered questions from the virtual audience as we watched the performance together. One thing we will continue to do because of the pandemic and our new learning is we will offer Zoom auditions – we learned that many young people had a chance to shine in a smaller personal environment. We will continue to create art/live theater as we know that kids are the ones who show up and let their hearts live in a project. I will always think of this project as a success.