This period of theatre closures and no large groups not only means that we can’t go to the theatres, but it also means the next generation of performers aren’t able to attend classes or perform their roles that they have been rehearsing. This Behind the Scenes interview is with Courtney Corey, the Director of the Theatre Arts School of San Diego about how she is adapting to this new reality and still finding ways to bring kids and arts together.
Theatre Arts School of San Diego is dedicated to teaching and establishing the techniques, creativity, and collaboration in all of their students. If you want to work in the theatre industry in any way you need all three of those things in abundance. Corey has found ways to adapt to this new normal of everyone staying home that allows the students to continue to grow their skills.
We have moved all of our in-person lessons, classes, projects, auditions, and rehearsals to an online format. Using Zoom, Google Drive, and more – we are able to connect with all of our student theatre artists while maintaining physical distancing. I say “physical,” instead of “social” distancing, because we are trying to increase virtual social interaction to help support them.
We are adapting our original spring musical, THE ISLAND OF BAD KIDS, into a story that reflects this experience. We are fully prepared that the production in June could be virtual.
In a coincidental bit of timing, the theatre had just closed performances of a show that had parallels to today’s current events.
We had just closed Thornton Wilder‘s THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH. The impact of that story is really meaningful for our actors, as well as the co-director for the production, Wendy Maples. THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH is about a family who survives the end of the world time and time again. They survive war, climate change, famine, and even each other. I feel like every generation has at least one “end of the world” moment. For me, as a kid, it was the cold war. With our students (and all of us), it is this moment we are all living through right now. We have gone from 60 to 0 in seconds flat to trying to survive COVID19. Our cast even did a virtual “cast party” to connect, discuss the show, and support one another.
Corey had already had some virtual class options prior to this experience and finds it valuable to continue even after everyone can get together again.
I had already taught a few online lessons in the past. If a student needed last-minute audition coaching or if a parent was sick and couldn’t drive them to the studio, we would do a lesson on Zoom. I am learning, with my students, how to best meet their needs as we work remotely. This type of learning will be much more integrated into my work when this crisis is over, especially to create more accessible theatre experiences for all students.
Some of our classes are free, some are low-cost, in addition to our longer-term, in-depth training – this way there is an opportunity for everyone.
Link to the classes http://www.theatreartssd.org/classes-online
Corey is no stranger to the stage herself, having performed in the LA and Chicago companies of WICKED, as well as the 1st and 2nd national tours of RENT. She was also nominated for the 2020 Excellence in Theatre Education Tony Award. So as someone with such an extensive theatre background, what is her favorite thing about the theatre community San Diego?
As theatre artists, we have become very good at adapting, finding a plan b/c/d…, and thinking outside the box. Theatre teaches us this. Theatre artists are constantly coming across roadblocks, and we are trained to think around the obstacles.
The San Diego theatre community is a perfect example of this. From online art education to in-home concerts, to crowdsourcing short plays – the theatre has not stopped. It just went online.
What is Corey be looking forward to the most when live classes start again?
I think a lot of them will need a hug. That will be an incredible moment. We will not take human connection for granted.
The classes are more than just about acting technique, but also help kids of all ages process everything that is happening around them.
We have some fun videos using theatre and puppetry; in this series, a puppet is at home and is online with her teacher. Even though these videos will be fun and informal, they will help kids express their feelings about learning in a quarantine environment. We hope to have guest stars that visit our puppet friend throughout the series.
You can follow Courtney Corey and the Theatre Arts School of San Diego for their current and future endeavors at their website or any of their social media platforms. You can also contact them if you want to donate so they can continue to provide these great options.
Looking for ideas of what to do during this time of quarantine? Click here for more suggestions