arts   |   coronavirus

IU theater students continue classes without a stage



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Freshman Taylor Harmon speaks with her theater class Wednesday afternoon. Harmon’s theater classes have been on zoom due to the coronavirus pandemic. Courtesy Photo

Freshman theater student Taylor Harmon left for spring break with a theatrical sword. Her stage combat instructor wanted his students, including Harmon, to practice choreography at home. At the time, Harmon expected to return to her rehearsals after three weeks.

Now that classes are virtual for the rest of the spring semester, theater students are left with restrictions on much of their resources and rehearsals.

“For the arts kids especially, it’s not just that we’re missing out on schoolwork,” Harmon said. “We’re missing out on a month of training as well.” 

Being away from campus, theater students no longer have access to private practice rooms, pianos and, in Harmon’s case, combat props. 

Since stage combat students cannot rehearse in person, they can’t pass their certification at the end of the semester, which requires a certain number of hours logged of stage combat. Harmon said she plans to take more stage combat classes in future semesters to earn her certification.

Freshman musical theater student Kate Glaser said her instructors told her to maintain motivation throughout the remainder of the semester. During the break, Glaser studied the history of musical theater, piano and ballet on her own.

“Our teachers wanted us to know that it was important for us to keep being accountable for our own growth as artists,” Glaser said.

Glaser said she appreciates a break during this time after recently concluding her performance in the IU Mainstage production “Tiger Beat.” 

In addition to canceling spring semester productions, IU decided to cancel summer events April 1. Harmon, and other student performers who were hired to perform in summer IU productions, were let go.

Before spring break, Harmon was hired for IU Summer Theatre’s production of “Murder on the Orient Express.” That production was canceled March 27. 

The Musical Theatre Freshmen Showcase, which was planned for May, was postponed. The freshmen hope to continue developing the production in order to present it to the incoming freshman class next year.

Senior musical theater student Danielle McKnight had started preparing for her senior showcase before classes were canceled. The showcase is expected to be rescheduled for the fall. However, all three of the performance jobs she planned for the summer have been canceled.

“I’ve been realizing slowly that I probably don’t need to check my email for job offers anymore,” McKnight said.

McKnight said she has been contacting friends, casting directors and performers she is close to now that she does not see them in person. She has also been taking advantage of the free lessons and seminars she has found on social media.

Harmon attended her first Zoom theater class Monday. 

“In my acting class we all just kind of talked about our lives for an hour after,” Harmon said. “We’re all losing jobs right now. We’re all losing training time, and everyone is really supportive of one another and checking in.”

Glaser also commented on the way her peers have helped her while away.

She will continue her theater education by working in small groups on various scenes and meeting with her instructor one-on-one to practice and improve monologues.

She has found some positivity in her artistry while social distancing in her home in Columbus, Ohio.

“It’s nice to be reminded in these times the whole world looks to entertainment that’s created by artists,” Glaser said. “It’s our job to keep that mindset throughout this.”

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