Theatre and Performance centers the gathering of people, sharing of space, and the creating/critiquing/disrupting of culture. All of these actions remain vital to our society even if we cannot be physically together during the Corona Virus Pandemic. Many in our field are struggling with this new possible extended paradigm shift of social distancing. The Theatre Program at Sarah Lawrence is known for its experimentation and innovation and we have already created new ways of being together online, even in the short reactive period at the end of the Spring semester. We are adapting our foundational components in Acting, Directing, Design, Playwriting, Tech, and Management and creating and retrofitting digital spaces and platforms for our students to rehearse and present their productions with fellow students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents. We are creating rehearsals, developmental workshops, readings, performances, and robust discussions that hold at their core dialectics of presence, liveness, and critical proximity.
Many people are asking about how theater and performance as a field will deal with social distancing, but in contemporary theatre, we have been living and working in the contentious space of presence and non-presence and structural issues of liveness for the past 50 or so years. We work in the mysteries of the double event or triple event. An actor with their lived experience and biography doubles into a representation of a character which then, more often these days…even on Broadway, doubles again into a live mediated image. It's this problematic liveness that is at the core of our contemporary work. This fall semester we will continue to teach our foundations of theater and performance making with a new emphasis on exploring and innovating online frameworks that embrace critical proximity and synchronicity of togetherness.
We are planning to hold hybrid FYS classes and our Graduate Students will be hybrid with access to our studios and workshops. Our undergrad students who will be on campus or have access to campus will also have the ability to schedule time in our workshops and studios for solo work or working with approved social distancing practices. We are currently assessing with the college which of our components can have hybrid possibilities. The majority of components will be taught online and any hybrid components will follow the requirements of social distancing and wearing a mask at all times.
We have a full Fall Season planned and will be innovating ways to present the work LIVE online. Last semester we presented work via zoom and this fall semester we will work with (and teach) techniques, programs, and approaches that can help our student's artworks thrive. We will not abandon the art form. At the moment the risk is too high to have a live audience in our indoor spaces, but we are hoping to arrange presentations in our outdoor spaces with social distancing and masks. Our online live performances will be dynamic and innovative incorporating new formats and frameworks. As you know our slogan for the fall season is THIS TIME. Many obstacles lay ahead of us as a community and society and this is the time to come together and create equitable, innovative, and just systems and art that build a better future whether we are in person, hybrid, or connected through a network. This is the time. THIS TIME.
We are looking forward to studying, creating, and envisioning the future with you this fall.