Teaching theater in virtual spaces

Teaching theater in virtual spaces

Teaching theater in virtual spaces

According to academic experts, one of the most effective teaching tools is 'Theatre,' which assimilates social, expressive, and intellectual development while also reaching educational targets. For instance, you are teaching a classic novel 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens to your students, and just adapting by the script, performing literature will enable your students to express themselves authentically in an online space.

Reading from the chapters will allow students to understand the main parts of the novel. While reading and asking students to take turns, they can engage in short discussions about broader themes, brainstorm ideas, and critical approaches to problem-solving challenges.

For example, you can ask students to design opportunities and ideas to bring specific phrases, scenes, and actions on the virtual stage.

How was the fight? How Pip stole the bread, the Graveyard scene, or Pip escaping. Ask the students to think about how these scenes can be brought to the stage of virtual space.

A teacher can now ask students to write down three characters from the novel they would like to play and one role they would rather not. After they present the answers, discuss why they want to play a certain character and the reasoning of why they choose or not choose a certain character. Students tend to give robust information and ideas. You would also be able to see which student wants to play a character with a lot of lines and who is shy and quiet yet wants to play an evil villain. By allowing them to pick and choose characters, the teacher will also be able to unfold the emotions and other insights to understand their students in academic settings.

Tips for practicing theatre in a virtual space

Short-acting warm-ups, reading aloud dialogues with expressions and use of body language, allowing students to utilize the full length, and allowing the body to translate what has been expressed are what a teacher can enable students to do during virtual classrooms.

It is challenging to create space for rehearsals; here, you have a full possibility of using outdoor, real spaces, and required props. For example, a kitchen scene can be rehearsed in a kitchen at a student's home kitchen.

Dig deeper and connect to real life

After students have had rehearsals, now is the time to discuss the inside story. A teacher might ask the students how a particular character in the story relates to their lives.  What are the possibilities of script change in the story? How would they write the script if they were the author? What type of music can be used if the story is performed on the stage? What will be the costumes? Ask them to write down the scene and props' details – a clock, tree, house, utensils – How would it look like virtually?

A Teacher can now divide her class into various teams and assign them specific roles – Design, Acting, Costumes, and Creative for each scene's virtual background. The teams can be sent in different breakout rooms to discuss the plan. This will help students design, plan, and act and learn about how they can work on performing arts in virtual spaces. 

What can go wrong?

While planning and executing theatre virtually isn't an easy task, a teacher must ensure students keep in mind the things that could go wrong. A student can lose an internet connection or forget a line. Navigating these errors is why the live theater is one of the most valuable performing arts.

We wish you the best of luck with your next theatre lesson!

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