Taking performing arts shows outside
June 14, 2021
I didn’t realize how much the physicality of art made art, art.
Since last March, the pandemic has pushed us to be more creative in our collaboration, communication, and interaction with one another. Pausing physical contact, we’ve shifted onto Zoom, Discord, social media, and reached past the frames of our computers to learn and see others.
While online platforms did have its own share of benefits, such as enabling a wider audience to be reached, bringing in guest speakers from different time zones, and allowing us to conduct all clubs activities within the comfort of our homes, it also has had its fair portion of disadvantages. Theater and performing art clubs were no exception.
In a typical, pre-covid school year, theater and performing arts clubs would have been bustling about, preparing for shows and auditions, bringing a script to life. You would’ve been able to go inside a physical building with an actual ticket instead of a Zoom invitation, and see the work of many students come on stage. Although the work ethic might not have changed, the product was seriously altered. There’s only so much a blurry shared screen can convey.
On the other hand, with loosening restrictions and social distancing rules on the rolling vaccines, many counties and states have been going back to what many hope will be the pre-covid era. With this, there’s been an increase in the number of outdoor venues opening and theaters to allow for more in-person, outdoor performances. Clubs and students are beginning to see the shift from Zoom to the grass; for instance, one school, Oakland University, has already begun promoting their outdoor theater performance that will stretch from April to June.
It’s exciting to see the possibility of on-stage performances once again, see people dressed in costumes with mics, and have group performances, whether that be it a dance number or a chorus. Body language and expressions are key factors to the performing arts because they reinforce the song or line. Art is, quite literally, performing. But when the mics are muted, muffled, or static, it seems like the art is buffering more than thriving.
And as exciting as this transition is, I can’t help but also worry about the fact that the pandemic, frankly, isn’t over yet. Physical and outdoor theater and performing clubs would have to mean, for the most part, that people forgo their masks and minimize social distancing. Although it might be possible to guarantee that cast members have gotten their vaccines, audience members can’t, nor can strangers they might encounter.
Outdoor theater and performance clubs, I believe, are a great opportunity for drama and art enthusiasts, and I have no doubt they won’t be able to garner the same success they receive indoors, if not more. However, I hope that they continue performing art without compromising the safety of themselves and those around them.
Online and physical performances both have their drawbacks and advantages, but nonetheless, students and artists across the world have shown the ever-kindling, resilient passion of theater and performing arts.