The Coe-Brown theatre department has had to seriously rethink their approach to how they would continue the program. Due to the Corona Virus, no actual shows have been allowed for the foreseeable future. The CDC recommends having shows outside with the actors ten feet apart, but this is simply impossible. Instead, the program has had a different approach to their way of keeping the theatre alive. The school theatre has made the plan to have weekly workshops to practice and improve upon their students’ skills. The three main subjects that the program has worked on are movement acting, technical theatre, and they have just started to work in musical theatre. The new program is solely based on improving the skills of these fresh and experienced actors, without the stress of a fall show.
The leaders of the CBNA theatre program are Mrs. Moynihan and Ms. Hume. They have taken over for the retired Mrs. Lent, and are continuing the legacy of the theatre. When asked: How do you think the theatre is going in the new world of covid? Mrs. Moynihan replied, “it is a sad and challenging time, but I am thrilled to see how artists are coming together to find new and innovative ways to bring theatre to audiences. For us, it has been a challenge, because we have not been able to do our fall and winter shows as usual. We have come up with workshops, staged readings, and a planned writing project to help fill that performance void. While this has been tough, it has also allowed us to focus on skills building, which we did not always previously have time to do. The work that we have seen from our students has been tremendous and has really allowed us to see future directions for shows and programming in later seasons”. When asked the same question Ms. Hume responded by saying: “I mostly feel lucky that we’ve been able to come up with a plan to keep CBNA Theatre moving forward here. I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with Mrs. Moynihan who is brilliant and excited to work with our students and share all of her knowledge and experience. We are very proud of the program that we’ve put together for the fall! Although we can’t produce a typical show, it’s been really exciting to plan and develop workshops to introduce students to new skills and practice ones that might be a little rusty. We wanted to put together something for everyone: Movement Mondays, Tech Tuesdays, musical theatre, straight plays, playwriting, and more! It feels like we are teaching and learning even more than we would have during the run of a traditional show.”
I also asked the teacher if they feel any pressure running the theatre program. Mrs. Moynihan responded with: “I do feel pressure to run the theatre program because I am lucky to be stepping into a well-established theatre program that Mrs. Lent ran for many years along with Ms. Hume. I am so thankful that I got to spend all of last year getting to know the students at Coe-Brown and the way the theatre program was run. The Covid situation has changed many things for us, but the dedication of our students has not. My hope is always to be providing students with challenging, engaging, dynamic, and fun theatre experiences, while also giving them theatre skills that they can use in the classroom and beyond. One of the more challenging aspects of my job as a theatre teacher is making sure that I am picking a material that is appropriate for the students that we have but will also challenge them allowing them to expand on their existing skills and talents. Ultimately, it is the absolute best part of my job. I have always believed that theatre is an important area of the arts and I am thrilled that I get to bring my love and passion for it to the students at Coe-Brown. Ms. Hume answered: “I think the thing I feel most pressured about is making the theatre program just as fun, collaborative, and educational as it typically is under very atypical circumstances. We have so many talented new freshmen and sophomores that haven’t had a lot of time with us yet! It’s important to me that they feel like they’re a part of our company, and that everyone’s time is being valued. That can be tricky at the end of a long day in a mask. Overall, despite all of the challenges we are facing in terms of performance and spacing restrictions, I feel like each individual student has had more opportunity to learn and grow under these unusual circumstances than they might have during a full production! That’s what makes all of the pressure worth it.”
Students such as Darin Sweet, a Senior at Coe-Brown and President of the International Thespian Society, agrees that “there has been a lot of restriction when it comes to the new program, but we are doing a great job with doing our best and improving our theatrical skills”. He also stated, “that he missed the old theatre, but he is still having lots of fun”. Darin is a long-time member of the CBNA theatre, participating in all four years of Highschool and he is planning on continuing in college. Ariella Price, a freshman at Coe-Brown, was anxious about joining the theatre program at the beginning of the year. During her interview, Ariella stated that “many things changed during the pandemic and definitely the theatre she had been used to”. Ariella also says she “is free to be herself, and that she loves the theatre program. Ariella is a, just joined theatre member, but is planning to participate for the rest of her Highschool career.
Hopefully the future is brighter for the theatre program. Everyone was disappointed with this year, but the theatre program found a way to keep up the spirits of its members. Perhaps one day things will get back to normal, and show production will be able to continue. For now the audience will just have to wait.
– Samuel Marcotte