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The stage vs the Zoom call: theater education changed over the last two years

theater education at the Scoundrel and Scamp
Posted at 6:20 AM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 11:41:02-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Throughout the past few years, education went through many changes. From online only classes to hybrid curriculum schools pivoted the way they've taught students.

The same happened with theaters. Local theater classes are cornerstone in the theater industry at large, a place where many thespians start their careers. Directors over at The Scoundrel and Scamp Theatre and Unscrewed Theater said it's difficult to teach the art of stage presence in front of a screen on a Zoom call.

"It’s difficult," Besty Labiner, the director of education at The Scoundrel and Scamp, said "A lot of what we do here at the scoundrel and scamp is physical theater, so to convey some of those big physical movements on stage you have to move further back away from your camera while also still staying in the field of view."

Over at Unscrewed Theater, it was easier to bring improv to a Zoom call because of the lack of scripts and props. Executive Director Chris Seidman said they performed on a Zoom webinar, which allowed them to have people listen in while they performed the scenes. But they were missing one thing: the laughs from the audience.

"Most of our students are seated while taking our classes," he said "And there’s ways to move in your little rectangle and bring physicality into it but it’s certainly not the same as an in-person class where you have the ability to use your whole body.”

Seidman said even though it was difficult to teach physicality for improv over a screen, the technology allowed them to reach a larger audience.

"I think that this technology is here to stay," he said. "In fact I've been in contact with and we've made connections with people in other parts of the world and country that we never would have been able to if it wasn't for technology like zoom."

Unscrewed Theater performers are back on stage but there is still no audience. Seidman said they hope to bring audience members and students back to the stage soon.

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