I have been quiet on here for a couple of years. But I want to use it as a space to reflect on teaching Drama and Theatre in today's difficult climate.
There’s no denying that studying Drama this year is very different to the norm. As drama lecturers, we have tried to find innovative and interesting ways to keep the students engaged and allow them to still access theatre. We are lucky that we live in a creative world where those working in the theatre industry have themselves also been trying to find ways to keep going during these trying times. Theatre companies have been adapting their work for online. Women and Theatre, a company who normally work directly with communities, have created a film called Women in Lockdown that explores ‘the experiences of and impact on women in this unique moment in history.’ Imitating the Dog, who experiment with multi-media and often mix film and theatre, have generously put full shows on to their website for people to access. Rash Dash, a contemporary, all-female group, have created a concept album: Don’t Go Back To Sleep: The Lockdown Album. Their audiences can access this remotely and listen to stories from around the world about our current situation.
One of the questions that we are asking the students and asking ourselves as lecturers is: Is this still theatre? We are all missing the liveness, we are missing gathering in the room together and creating work - this contact and this connectedness of theatre is what makes it theatre and being at the other end of a screen removes its very essence. Yet as it always does, the arts prevail, and we, both students and lecturers, keep on finding novel and thought-provoking ways to keep ourselves engaged in a subject that relies upon and is about immediacy and liveness. We have been working with the students to find ways of adapting material for an online platform and we’ve been bowled over by the choices, the research and the ideas that have materialised. Drama students are resilient, they challenge themselves, they push themselves, they work with the idea of process over product and from that comes critical thinking and thought-provoking material and for that, as lecturers in drama, we will always be impressed. We have to keep working to find ways to keep theatre alive - as a university, as a country, and globally - because it’s one of the few art forms that we have that is about being in the same space, as audience members and as creators, that challenges us to think together about the world we inhabit.