Freshman Ava Kaufman rehearses a scene in "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare. (Photos courtesy of Jane McGinnes)

Drama class is adapting to online format; putting together film version of ‘Macbeth’

Due to the pandemic, it has been difficult for the drama class to put on productions and function properly over Zoom.

High school drama teacher Jane McGinnes has been dealing with the frustration of teaching online. 

“I was nervous about how it would work out on Zoom, especially now with the mix of students on Zoom and in person,” McGinnes said.  “I was upset that we wouldn’t be putting on performances, so I felt a bit disappointed in that. I’ve tried to watch a play on Zoom, and without the visual elements, it just didn’t work. But I think what I’ve learned from this is that live theater is such a powerful medium and I’ve missed it intensely.”

Because live acting requires in-person interaction, finding ways for students to practice their acting has been difficult. 

“Sometimes we’ll play a game, and it will flop horribly. It just doesn’t work because we’re all sitting on Zoom. And I go, ‘Okay, well, that one didn’t work.’ So then we’ll try another activity and see what works for Zoom,” McGinnes said. 

Sophomore Elizabeth Cook has also had frustrations doing drama online.

“I’m kind of annoyed about the whole situation. You can’t really do the same thing over Zoom as you can in person. You can’t do the same exercises or the games or be on stage, which means you can’t learn the same things as you would in person,”  Cook said.

The drama class is using shadows in their film to hide the masked actors, according to McGinnes. (Photo courtesy of McGinnes)

However, not everything about the drama class has been affected by the pandemic. Some things, such as simply studying the performing arts, have stayed unchanged. 

“Reading plays, watching performances of plays, analyzing — analyzing text, analyzing performances and etc. —  that part of the class was pretty easy to manage,” McGinnes said. 

Usually a typical day in the high school drama class would consist of vocal warm ups, studying different plays and participating in improvisation games. 

But recently, the drama class has been putting together a virtual spin on the play “Macbeth” by Willam Shakespeare. Because of the complications caused by COVID-19, the production will be a film version instead of a live play. 

With this version of Macbeth being a film production, it has given the drama class a lot more room to experiment with different types of situations and media. 

“You just got to think outside the box with the film version, because you’ve got some actors on Zoom, and some actors in person. You have to make a film that has flow to it, that is creative and that is engaging using the medium that we have. With editing, there’s a lot more creativity in how we get things to work on screen. I think that would be compelling for a play like this,” McGinnes said. 

Even though the class is still putting on productions, nothing can compare to live theater and live acting.

“I definitely wish we were all in person. Because it’s so much more fun. I did drama all throughout middle school, which was the best thing ever. You would sometimes have late night practices and you would have some get-togethers with all your friends and then go to practice until late in the afternoon. It was just a really cool experience that I wish we could still have now,” Cook said.

— By Katie Espinoza

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