Open Forum

Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

  • 1.  Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-02-2020 11:59

    Like all of you, I am in the midst of planning, and contingency planning. I have already submitted plans to my admin of how we can work safely, built within the assumption that we will be at school, can have after school programming, will be allowed to have audiences, etc. Fortunately, Nairobi's weather is great all year, so we can outside a lot for rehearsals and potentially performances too if we are not allowed to have audiences in our auditorium. But of course, there is the question of what to do if we are not at school at all. Porting plays - some made for the medium, others, monologue-driven - makes sense and is on the table.

    But I want to broaden the brainstorming...

    What could we do that is NOT theatre? What about filmmaking? Or writing competitions like the Quarantine Bake-Off? (Did anyone do that this spring? I did two of them. It was series of fun writing competitions that involved writing a 10 page script in 48 hrs that had to include a few elements. These were then read and a few were selected to be read aloud in reader's theatre. 


    Any other thoughts? I just want to think through what is possible and not limit ourselves only to porting theatre to Zoom. 


    Steven



    ------------------------------
    Steven Slaughter
    English/Theatre
    Rosslyn Academy
    Nairobi, Kenya

    "Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts." - W Berry
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-03-2020 08:18
    Radio plays! My 8th graders wrote and produced four this spring using Soundtrap. It was a lot of fun and I'll be expanding that unit/project with my next group in the fall.

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    Patti Veconi
    Brooklyn NY
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  • 3.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-03-2020 10:48

    I tried two experiments in different classes this spring, both involved me building free websites through one of the common "build your site for business! platforms."

    Experiment #1: I created a "setting" by building a "website" for a fake high school. There were a series of tabs at the top--athletics, announcements, a literary magazine, student newspaper, a teacher's desk (which included a grade book, emails from students, etc), a page for student elections, and a page of visual images. The kids then explored the site, some found the "hidden pages" (if you clicked on the image of a garbage can, you got to see notes people threw away. Each student created a character (using an existing name in the site or not, and wrote and filmed a monologue as a moment in the life of that student (we threw diagetics out the window to make life easier.) In the next phase, students designed pages for new clubs, wrote articles for the student newspaper, added photos, and found ways to strengthen their character in the world. For the Final phase, they worked with partners to write and record audio scenes (also using Soundtrap), which were then added to the site. The kids loved the dive into imaginative play, and since the two sections of the class got to work together, they had a lot of fun with it.  This was my first year at the school, and a bit or a high wire act to get them to trust me and go with it, and there are things I could've done if I knew them better to strengthen the project. At the end, I asked them what they would do differently if they could start over at the beginning knowing what they know now, and most said "make stronger choices, connect more with other characters, make choices quickly, and then adjust, rather than waiting to get in the game." In Year 1, I'll take it.

    Experiment #2 : My small "advanced" class created a Choose-your-own adventure website, which involved the viewer playing a role as a student 60 years in the future, when all learning's virtual, and a small band of students has formed to pass bootleg videos of real teachers teaching actual content, instead of their dystopian government's propaganda lessons. The Viewer watches a short video, and usual has to make a choice between 2 options, taking them through the story, having to make decisions about whom to trust, and eventually landing on one of 7 endings. When we realized we needed more actors, we got the Acting 1 class involved to play minor characters, which was a fun collaboration that couldn't have happened during our in-person schedule. We also got a popular teacher to make a cameo video teaching his lesson in the "best" ending. We shared the site with the school community at the end of the year, and got a big response. People had a lot of fun with it, and the kids learned a lot about crafting a story. 

    ​​​
    I'm excited to see what other folks came up with!

    ------------------------------
    Meg O'Connor
    The Masters School
    Dobbs Ferry, NY
    oconnormainstage.com
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-03-2020 20:33
    Meg, these are brilliant ideas! I love how much they are really looking at this from really fresh directions. 



    Steven Slaughter
    English/Theatre
    Rosslyn Academy
    Nairobi, Kenya

    "Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts." - Wendell Berry





  • 5.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 2 days ago
    Meg,
    Which website did you use for experiment #2, the one with advanced students?​

    ------------------------------
    Sonja Brown, Theatre Teacher
    Thespian Troupe 839
    Galt High School
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-04-2020 07:17
    If we are eLearning in the fall, I am planning on students creating their own podcast episodes based on the podcast Imagined Life. If you haven't listened before I highly recommend it! Basically, a famous person's life is described over the course of an episode as if they are telling their own story, but the catch is that they don't reveal their identity until the end of the episode. So for 30+ minutes, listeners get to guess and discuss who it might be! They are a lot of fun. I'm thinking about having my students make them for teachers in our school and have them be 5-8 minutes long and then we'll push them out to the school. I hope this helps! I'm going to be working on some more podcast lessons that I plan to post, as well!

    ------------------------------
    Drew Whitley
    D. W. Daniel High School
    Greenville SC
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-04-2020 09:14
    Drew - this is brilliant! You (or said teacher) could also include ethnodrama and drama research into the project by having the producers interview their subjects. Some cross-curric collaboration possibilities too (which administrations love). Thank you for sharing this very creative project idea.




  • 8.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 2 days ago
    Keep us posted! I'm very interested!
    I assume this is for classes. What are you planning for your after school production?

    ------------------------------
    Sonja Brown, Theatre Teacher
    Thespian Troupe 839
    Galt High School
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-04-2020 08:52
    I agree, Steven. Instead of focusing on what we cannot do (or cannot do very easily of well) we need to focus on what we can do. I did a playwriting unit during DL in which we wrote, rewrote and the recorded original works on flipgrid. I plan on expanding on that this year. It went over really well and it was a great opportunity to share and see each other's work. Of course, like many others I plan on doing a camera-ready unit focusing on being on camera. Lots of possibilities out there.
    Take Care,
    Garry

    ------------------------------
    Garry Tiller
    Theatre Arts Teaching Artist
    Sidwell Friends
    Washington, DC
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-07-2020 11:52
    Gary, I am intrigued by your playwriting unit using Flipgrid. Were you somehow able to have groups of students record on Flipgrid together or were the plays read or performed by only the playwright recording solo? From my experience the time limit on Flipgrid recordings in 1.5 minutes - were the plays very short or were you able to get around that? Thank you!

    ------------------------------
    Janet Borrus
    Santee Education Complex
    Los Angeles CA
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-07-2020 12:34
    Hi Janet,
    I really like Flipgrid and am still learning more how to best utilize it for various performance opportunities for my students at Sidwell. My playwriting unit only included original monologues last year, but I intend on venturing into original scenes this coming school year. By the way, you can adjust the recording time to up to 10 minutes! I am investigating the options for recording more than one student for a scene. Of course, the students can record via another application and then submit, but the mix tape option apparently provides other ways, too. There are lots of tutorials out there, via google, etc. I hope this helps!
    Take Care,
    Garry

    ------------------------------
    Garry Tiller
    Theatre Arts Teaching Artist
    Sidwell Friends
    Washington, DC
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-07-2020 12:51
    Thank you, Gary, that is very helpful! Janet




  • 13.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-06-2020 14:11
    What a fabulous discussion! I am very inspired by these creative ventures that grow and utilize our students' skill sets when traditional theatre isn't possible.

    Meg, I am so fascinated by your projects. Is it possible to view or interact with these?

    Is anyone attempting video game design and creation with your students?

    ------------------------------
    Christina Vincent
    Director of Theatre
    The Woodhall School
    Bethlehem, CT
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-08-2020 15:18
    Edited by Meg O'Connor 2 days ago

    Replying to Christina, 

    Hi!
    I took the "Fictional Setting" project down over the summer, but you and others were able to view it  before then.

    I really appreciate the other ideas and plans here--I've had good experience with both Flipgrid and Soundtrap.


    ------------------------------
    Meg O'Connor
    The Masters School
    Dobbs Ferry, NY
    oconnormainstage.com
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-08-2020 13:38

    I'm with Patti. I'm going a bit old school and exploring radio drama. I'm looking at programs that could allow the students to perform from home, using their phones or laptops as mics. I'm thinking of something like War of the Worlds for Halloween. Partnering with the local public access radio station to see if we can do a public broadcast of our show. I haven't decided if I'm going to seek permission to use a script in print or have the students write their own. I may also include recreating some vintage ads that we can pre-record. I do want my design students to explore sound design, both Foley and recorded sound. 

    I'm still in the planning/ research stage so I'd love imput or resource suggestions from anyone who has taught radio drama before. 



    ------------------------------
    John Monteverde
    Drama Teacher
    A3: The Academy of Arts & Academics
    Springfield, OR
    john.monteverde@springfield.k12.or.us
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 07-09-2020 09:11
    I wonder if some of us might be able to do the final recording for a radio drama live. Since some schools will be doing hybrid in person and at home classes, we will be allowing students on campus. As such, my hope would be that if I went this route, that we would be allowed to also do a hybrid rehearsal schedule and be able to perform these in a radio studio setting where mics would be placed far enough apart, but kids would still be reacting and interacting.

    ------------------------------
    Steven Slaughter
    English/Theatre
    Rosslyn Academy
    Nairobi, Kenya

    "Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts." - W Berry
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 30 days ago
    I do a radio unit every year! It is super fun!!!!!
    My students are split into groups and they write their own shows. They choose a genre, a plotline, characters and write it from there! 
    They have to include a commercial and a PSA as well. They love these especially! 
    We record them in class, with sound effects and music! 
    I highly recommend it. 


    --
    Ms. Hillman
    Director of the CAPA Program/Acting Teacher
    Churchill High School
    Livonia, MI





  • 18.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 30 days ago
    Thank you, Angela. Very much looking forward to radio plays! Now looking for a recording and/or editing program students can use on their school-issued Chromebooks in breakout rooms. Soundcloud is pretty expensive if you have several sections of the same course as it is priced by # of users in account. Audacity won't work unless you also install Linux which Tech Admin says she cannot do. I am not legally supposed to record them in Zoom and even if I do everything is done on the fly and audio quality is poor. Anyone know of anything that would work? Thanks!

    Janet Borrus




  • 19.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 30 days ago
    We had students record MP3 files on their phones. We used Adobe Premier to edit. Garage Band also works to edit.

    ------------------------------
    Elisabeth Ledwell
    Falmouth MA
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  • 20.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 30 days ago
    I earlier response post about radio plays I wrote that Soundcloud is pricy, but I meant Soundtrap





  • 21.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 28 days ago
    Do you have a copy of that unit that you could share.  I am the only theater teacher in my building but I want to provide a quality curriculum outside of the classroom.  PLEASE and THANK YOU!

    ------------------------------
    Mary Bowen
    Teacher/Director
    JCPS
    Louisville KY
    ------------------------------



  • 22.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 5 days ago
    Edited by Lawrence Long 5 days ago
    What tech do you use to record your radio plays? When we were doing these live, I had nice Pill style condenser mics that ran through the sound board. If We're closed (which we are) how can students record and mix individual recordings? I am going to do a unit and am thinking of turning it into an episodic, narrative podcast. Just trying to get clear recordings.

    Thanks!

    ------------------------------
    Lawrence Long
    San Mateo CA
    ------------------------------



  • 23.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 2 days ago
    Hi Angela! I am excited after reading this thread and exploring Soundtrap to introduce a similar radio play collaboration as a culminating experience for high school theatre arts classes. Can you unpack some of examples of unit materials you use and how you introduce  them to the class before unleashing the assignment? Comparing suspense, comedy, melo-drama in historic radio plays? Any Foley sound assignments?

    VERY new to teaching high school and new to the term "hyperdoc" so any suggestions could be insightful!

    ------------------------------
    Tracy Herber
    Theatre Director/Performing Arts Chair
    Kansas City MO
    ------------------------------



  • 24.  RE: Thinking beyond porting theatre to Zoom

    Posted 6 hours ago
    Hi folks,
    LOVE THESE IDEAS!!!  I've been doing Radio Plays/Voice Acting units for years, but I'm stealing many of the ideas posted so far.

    Just to add one more idea to the mix:  Given that most kids are unfamiliar with the genre, I often start off by playing some of the classics from the 40s and 50s.  This models what we're going for and the students often have a better sense of the method and skills being applied.  Favorite examples and what I focus on:
    - "Gunsmoke" (great acting)
    - "Dragnet" (the banter and Joe Friday's monologues are amazing)
    - "Lights Out" (mood, sound effects, story development)

    As far as the comedies and variety shows, these are fun if you're looking for something to do for the holidays or do shorter scenes, commercials, and maybe even music (if your school is allowing kids to sing).

    Just some more two cents worth.  Stay safe!!!

    ------------------------------
    Josh Ruben, M. Ed.
    Fine Arts Head
    Northwest Whitfield HS (dba, The Northwest Theatre Co.)
    Tunnel Hill, GA
    ------------------------------