The show must virtually go on

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Anna Guerra

Despite school closures, the performing arts still plan for success.

With the Ventura Unified School District announcing that school will remain online, some electives have to readapt their classes for the upcoming year. Among these electives is drama. Drama teacher Stefoni Rossiter explained through an email that the drama and stagecraft courses will take place online with the goal of progressing toward live performances when it is safe to do so.

“Our extracurricular productions will continue as always, although they will be presented digitally,” highlighted Rossiter. “We are currently considering livestream, recording, iMovie productions, YouTube Live, and Zoom performances.”

Under Rossiter’s direction, the fall play will be written and performed by students. Using Ventura High School student testimonials mixed with the actors’ original play concept and writings is something being considered. Auditions will be held for students who have a desire not only to act, but who want to take part in the writing process as well. Rehearsals will be held remotely during non-school hours, but more information will be available once the school year begins.

“While it’s true that electives like drama are going to look different this year,” said senior Jack Zilles, “I think drama is going to have some really unique opportunities due to distance learning because it is a very creative class. Because students will be able to choose how much time they spend working drama projects more than in a normal year, it will be an opportunity for those very interested in the subject to shine brighter than they might have been able to in person.”

Apart from being a drama student leader, Zilles will also serve as Drama Club President this year. Zilles hopes to maintain Drama Club’s focus of being a safe and fun place for students to be, even if it is virtual.

“I’m hoping that we can extend the range of the club to more people who will feel less pressure to come every week and can instead just pop into a Zoom,” explained Zilles.

The Winter Showcase will also take place digitally through iMovie, and will most likely feature work created in online drama courses. The improv troupe will also hold auditions and will be meeting remotely to rehearse. The plan is for them to present a “Zoomprov” show later in the semester. Any students wanting more information on tech opportunities may email Rossiter at [email protected]

“I’m sad about not being able to be together in person,” commented senior Angie Flum, who is also a student leader this year. “My piece of advice would just be to try and enjoy things as often as you can. Focus more on making it through the next couple months as best as you can.”

Show choir has also updated its plans for the upcoming school year. Show choir teacher Heidi House outlined in an email that she plans to incorporate a variety of elements to show choir, which includes comprehensive theory music lessons, choral music history and appreciation, as well as group projects. House also mentioned that the class will meet two afternoons a week instead of the previous four mornings a week and that she’ll meet with students in small groups to work on singing. There is also a plan to produce and stream a performance that includes solos, small groups, and whole-group numbers.

“I will also be sending the students choreography ideas and warm-ups for them to learn,” continued House, “I’ll include yoga videos for stretching, stress relief and relaxation. I’ll also be guest artists, speakers, and teachers presenting specialty classes such as proper vocal production and recording techniques to name a few. I’m enquiring about performance possibilities, perhaps a car concert [is an option].”

Sophomore Sinthia Cardenas, who has continued to be in show choir since fifth grade, expressed her thoughts on the challenges that online show choir may present.

“Singing together is quite challenging to do over Zoom because with everyone in different places and different internet connections it’s nearly impossible to get more than two people in sync at one time. But I know Heidi has some ideas that everyone is more than eager to try, anything to keep the class running,” said Cardenas.

“I feel like the greatest thing about being in choir are the people in the class. Heidi really makes the class such a fun experience and everyone is so welcoming and accepting, so I do think the class this year will still be lots of fun,” continued Cardenas, “I truly do encourage anyone to join choir, even if you don’t think you’re the best singer or dancer. The environment we create in that class is truly indescribable, it’s such a warm feeling of family. Even if you have no experience in theatre it’s something everyone should experience.”

Those wanting to join show choir or have further questions can email House at [email protected].