Open Forum

Using Zoom

  • 1.  Using Zoom

    Posted 05-30-2020 10:28
    Hi, all, and thanks for all the interesting topics you continue to raise.

    I'm writing a series of blogs about academics, theatre, and the pluses and minuses of using various alternatives. I know that many of you are using Zoom to overcome social distancing.

    If you have any advantages, disadvantages, or just plain funny or awful experiences using Zoom in your classrooms educating theatre students or in performances, I'd love to hear about them. You can message me if you like. What are some advantages you've found--some disadvantages--or advice? How has it worked for you.

    I'm currently experience the ups and downs of this digital world as a playwright and a teacher of playwriting. I'd love to know how the rest of you are handling it.

    Could you also let me know if I can quote you? I will respect anyone's privacy. Thanks for your time. This group is amazing at finding ways to overcome hurdles.


    Jean Klein
    Playwriting Teacher in MFA program, Wilkes University]
    Virginia BeachVA

  • 2.  RE: Using Zoom

    Posted 05-31-2020 15:21
    Oh, what a well-timed question, unfortunately.

    Last night was our 4th Annual Rammy Awards (our mascot is the ram, which you probably figured out, but that's another story, nevermind, anyway) and it was held on Zoom. I paid to upgrade to Pro so that I could require registration beforehand, hoping that this would add a layer of security. Unfortunately, children are not always the brightest lol. One of our students was having trouble getting into the room, so a friend (who is a tech geek and should have known better) gave him his join information--in a chat on Discord. Ten minutes later, the room was flooded with vitriol spewed by 5 people with the original student's name (I had turned off "allow participants to change name").

    Because I was sharing my screen and knew I couldn't focus with chat popping up, I had it minimized, so I didn't know what was going on until my husband and my 12th grader burst into my room to tell me. I immediately locked everyone's microphones and cameras, but in my panic, couldn't find the "disable chat" feature. I booted all 5 of the intruders, which actually booted the original student- who then missed his own award win. Even though I had set up the option to block people from reentering the room once they were booted, at least one of them found their way back in, and actually apologized, saying he wasn't from our school, and didn't know the boy whose name he was using, but just thought it would be funny. By that point, I managed to find the disable chat button.

    During all of this, the "real" student was texting me to tell me that it wasn't him, and that he was so sorry. He was on the phone with my daughter, asking her to apologize to me, near tears. I spoke with him to tell him that I know it wasn't him and that he would never say or do the things that were happening. Right after I ended the meeting, I wrote a statement apologizing to everyone in the room and asserting that none of this was him, and sent that out through the Evite.

    Reading the chat transcript this morning, it's pretty clear that these "hackers," as they called themselves, were just obnoxious 12-year-old boys, whether chronologically or as far as their maturity level goes. Lots of eggplant emojis and schoolyard name-calling.

    I made a copy of the saved chat and went back and edited out all evidence of the fiasco, and I'm going to share it with the kids. There was SO much sweetness and love, cheering each other on, thanking each other for the heartfelt tribute videos, and just celebrating each other and the work they all did. I want them to have that. They definitely deserved it.

    Jodi Disario
    Director of Theatre Arts
    Willow Glen High School
    San Jose, CA

  • 3.  RE: Using Zoom

    Posted 05-31-2020 16:17
    Hi Jean,

    We have been rehearsing and meeting on Zoom and here are my observations, feel free to use as you see fit.

    1. I have a sense of urgency in the ZOOM rehearsal space that I don't feel in the face to face rehearsal space. I am very aware of the time and how quickly it is passing by. When I typically rehearse after school we would usually go for about 2 hours, in Zoom I am keeping it to 1 hour. When we get to the end of the rehearsal, I start rushing and then it is suddenly over, we all sign off and it is done. It feels odd not to hang around for students to ask questions, socialize with each other, etc.
    2. I typically have a student director or students who are not in the scene sitting nearby in the auditorium. On Zoom that isn't an option. I don't get to bounce an idea off of someone or have a conversation like I typically would.
    3. I'm really happy to have ZOOM as a way for us to work together. We have managed to keep about 25 students very active in creating some new content to share, we probably have an additional 10-15 students who are helping prepare our end of the year celebration,  and I think will have a pretty good "turn out" for that event.  I think a lot of people might have thought this was impossible 10 or 11 weeks ago, and for me it would have been without ZOOM. Keeping those 35-40 students engaged with each other and theatre will be a great thing to look back on and celebrate when we are on the other side of the school shutdowns.
    4. I think we are just seeing the beginning of Zoom plays and streaming works, and I am happy we used this time to get a head start and see what works for us and what doesn't.

    J. Harvey Stone
    Jamestown High School Theatre
    Williamsburg, VA

  • 4.  RE: Using Zoom

    Posted 06-01-2020 11:35
      My theatre students and I have been having a Fun night - we play games and do improvs. This week went really well. The students are becoming adept at doing scenes even making it look like they are in the same space.  The best games - improvs have been "breaking news" and  "yes, your majesty".  We tried an active game this week, too.  This past Thursday night I saw some of the best improv moments of the year. It is not a big group so I am not sure how it would translate if their were more participants.  I watched a webinar provided by the Theatre for Young Audience on  theatre games - it led to me trying the Yes, Your Majesty and the active one.
    In my classes the biggest issue is getting them to be on video and audio. I had to make a requirement to speak or put something in the chat to be counted as present because without the video they just come in and then go off somewhere. Several students have not responded to the end of class such that I had to close out the meeting!
    We are planning to do a virtual talent show for our local TV show.
    My tech. director did three classes on lighting in which he demonstrated theatre lights and how they can be used. This went well. I can share the videos of these classes if you like and of the Encore fun night .

    Cathy Archer
    Rutland VT

  • 5.  RE: Using Zoom

    Posted 07-22-2020 00:00

    Hi Cathy,

    How will you be hosting your virtual Talent Show? Can I attend? I’ll have some questions afterward like what was different than what you thought and whatever tips you can give.

    Maria Stadtmueller
    St. Augustine School
    Kendall Park, NJ

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