A Drama Teacher Leads The Way During A Trying Time

Article written by Elizabeth De Marco

I’m a Theatre Teacher and Director at an American High School who was also teaching 12th grade English when the pandemic shut down our school district for a week, a month and then finally for the rest of the year. I am now teaching Theatre, Music and Debate online. Our district is 100% online learning for the foreseeable future. We do not know how long we will be teaching this way, but it could be well into 2021 and possibly next school year before we see our students in person again.

Over the summer and for the three weeks I and my colleagues were preparing for our students, I learned how to teach online. I took classes in Virtual classroom management, digital storytelling and inclusivity and diversity. Where I never had the time to learn technology before, the times have dictated what I learn now. My theatre students will be producing our first ever radio drama:

THE INVISIBLE MAN by John de Lancie, adapted from HG Wells’ story this October. How exactly it will be password protected for patrons to listen in is yet to be determined, yet my students are determined to make this show as successful as any they have been involved with previously. We are rehearsing online, exploring the characters as we always have; visualizing their imaginary circumstances and working within our timeline to record and publish our show in time for Halloween weekend. On the heels of this production, we will work immediately with another: SEEDFOLKS by Paul Fleishman. My hope is that the students with diverse backgrounds who might have been shy to get up in front of people to perform before the pandemic, will be willing to lend their voices to a story about a young Vietnamese girl who plants seeds to honor her dead father in her urban neighborhood. As the neighbors see her garden grow, they too decide to sow some of their own seeds and share their stories. I wish I could play games that require students to connect in ways they can’t now. I wish I could bring out the props and costumes and sets that have adorned my stage in the past. Perhaps this is a good time to practice our listening skills; to work on sound technology in a way that engulfs the listener into the world of the play through the imagination. It is a good time to make space to those who need to raise their voices. We will be lifting those voices high on the air waves this October and December. We hope you’ll listen in!

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