Changes in WPU theatre classes

By Tatiana Rivera

With coronavirus affecting our lives, schools have been taking the initiative to make changes in order to ensure safety for the students whether it be switching to online learning, creating a socially distant environment in classrooms or even minimizing the size of classrooms. 

Some changes have not had too big of an impact on classrooms and certain activities, but there are others that have been less fortunate like the Theater Department at William Peace University.

Theater is very close contact when it comes to many things such as audience members who are typically seated right next to others. It proves to be a problem as there is no social distancing, but there is an easy solution by simply blocking off some seats. The bigger issue at hand are the actors and technicians.

From the technical standpoint of theater, there are multiple people who are working backstage to make sure the show runs smoothly such as crew members that work on lighting and sound as well as crew members who move set pieces on and offstage. In their condition it would be difficult to maintain social distancing.

For the actors themselves, it would be near impossible to social distance. It would also be difficult to perform while wearing masks as well. Because of the difficulties that were faced with the recent events of COVID-19, the two fall productions that WPU’s Theater Department planned on doing, “Tartuffe” and “Chicago,” have been put on hold. 

“We’re holding out hope for spring, but at the same time we have to think about the safety of our audience members, our actors, our technicians,” said Amy White, a professor at WPU. There is still no definitive answer on what will happen with the two spring productions, “The Wolves” and “The Wedding Singer.”

The theater classes at the school have also undergone some changes. One change that all classrooms have gone through is rearranging the desks to distance the students and professors from each other. Another change that has been mandated for the entire campus is wearing masks in class. For acting and voice lessons, the rules are applied differently. Masks are not required as long as the students and professor can stay 12-feet apart from each other.

Katelen Hankins, a junior at WPU who is double majoring in Theater and American History, said the COVID-19 guidelines create more restrictions and boundaries that prevent students in acting classes to be up close and personal with their classmates.

“It feels like there is less stuff we can do in class, and there’s way more caution,” said Hankins. “There’s so much more restrictions in theater classes now.”

Despite all of the changes, this doesn’t stop Hankins from being positive about one thing: she can appreciate all the hard work that is being put into protecting the students.

White also looks at the positive side of this entire experience, saying “It sucks to be in the time in our corner, but it’s also been a really helpful time for us to learn a lot about ourselves.”