Daily Trojan | Theater students continue to develop their crafts online

SDA students, even online, have built a tight-knit community with one another. (Ashley Tobias | Daily Trojan Horse)

Adjusting to the current global situation, USC students have found themselves adapting to the field of virtual education. Students studying at the School of Dramatic Arts have faced unique challenges and changes that impact the way they learned theater during these unprecedented times.

Coming from unique backgrounds in theater before USC, each student’s experience of transitioning to online learning has been significantly different.

“Before I came to USC I went to an art school in Orange County, California, so I was raised in technical theater, so all the substantive things like lighting, costumes, [and] set design, ”said Emi Yoshino, a freshman specializing in stage management.

While students like Yoshino come from a more technical background, theater at USC encompasses the performance side of the industry as well.

“I started acting when I was very young,” said Gry Nyström, a freshman majoring in theater with a focus on theater. “I wrote my own plays [and] ask my grandparents to perform them. I would also play at church. When I moved to Italy I was playing both at school and outside of school. Whenever I had the chance, I just played.

Although they come from multiple backgrounds and experiences, both in life and in theater, students who study theater at USC all encounter new experiences when they first embark on their studies. university trips.

“My first acting experience led me to meet my roommates, which was crazy… In my roommate’s directing class, it took two actors to play the scene… we zoomed in and we did a scene together, and that was the first thing I had done in a while and also the second thing I had done on Zoom, so it was really interesting to have that experience, ”said Grace Langan, a junior with a specialization in theater.

In addition to developing bonds that last outside of the classroom, students are also able to form bonds and memories during class to last a lifetime.

“The first thing I remember was doing our stage management cohort meeting, which takes place every Friday,” Yoshino said. “All the BFA managers get on Zoom, and we just chat about our shows and how the school is going. It’s a nice little reunion that we all have, so we can all keep each other up. “

Attending a virtual college helped theater students further develop skills that otherwise might not have been noticeable in person. Yoshino explains how communication has become a necessary tool for his online learning.

“Just being on Zoom, then working on shows on Zoom, communication is like the only way to be successful,” Yoshino said.

Besides communication, students also noted that more personal life skills, such as flexibility of time and schedule, improved during their time in SDA.

“When doing things online, you have to be open to things not going as planned and things changing. I’m on one of the SDA shows right now, and you don’t have to watch the people in the scene with you to sound like you’re talking to them, and it’s very difficult because you don’t. isn’t natural, but it’s a good lesson in flexibility, ”said Aspen Somers, a freshman majoring in theater.

Even during in-person classes, regular challenges – such as time management and concentration – are presented to theater students. Being online often makes these challenges even greater.

“It’s just hard to be focused and feel like you have a connection with your stage partner when you watch them on the computer and your dog is barking in the background or the void goes by or whatever.” something like that, ”Somers said.

With the new online logistics challenges, being a theater major isn’t a walk in the park. SDA students still have to work hard every day to be the best version of themselves.

“It’s always a little scary to come into such a great educational institution where there are a lot of really talented people. I often suffer from impostor syndrome, ”Langan said. “It makes you go into your head a little bit more and question your choices and as an actor, which you kind of have to learn to put aside and not think so much because it’s always going to be there- low, but it’s just trying to remember that everyone is there, everyone is learning.

Nonetheless, SDA students still have fun and make memories while making awesome productions, even with Zoom.

Nyström recounts her experience working with Impulse Theater Company, alongside director Erika Bautista and playwright Michael Warker on a Zoom production of Warker’s one-act play, “Helpline.”

“This last show we just put on was a lot of fun. We were able to take everything we did into Zoom and put it all on the table, working with the production team and the playwright, ”Nyström said.

In addition, USC offers its students unique learning opportunities to support their involvement in the school community.

“We just started rehearsals for ‘White Plague’ two weeks ago. It’s been really interesting to work because the director is a guest director, so he has a lot of experience outside of just working at USC. It’s really interesting how he has all these ideas for characters that you never really think about, ”Somers said.

With shows like “Helpline” and “White Plague” having more structure, students are also involved in a diverse set of genres of performances and productions. In addition to structured plays, there are also more collaborative opportunities for students, such as comedy sketch productions.

“What’s interesting about producing skits is that we don’t know what roles we have … and I think it’s something that’s pretty cool because we haven’t assigned yet. characters, it’s just about working together to figure out what we want to do and what parts we want to do, ”Langan said.

With productions, classes, and other learning opportunities sometimes presented by individual teachers, it’s hard not to get excited as a theater student at USC. Even online, students continue to foster positive learning experiences.

“I think the bottom line is that we continue to find joy in the little things. It’s going to be hard because we’re used to rehearsing all the time, and it’s part of who we are and how we grow, and it feels a little empty with no rehearsals all the time, without playing and you lose out. sort of the sense of purpose. “Nyström said.” But I think the main thing is to keep going and find the joy in these classes that you have to develop yourself. “

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