A Plague on All Our Houses

Months of vocal rest, hours of practice, and all for an audience of one: yourself.
But after just a few weeks back at school, it’s with heavy hearts that performing arts students must concede the odds of the audience count going up any time soon are slim to none.
During these troubling times inflicted by COVID-19, the performing arts department has had to entirely reinvent itself, accommodating the health mandates imposed by the school as well as finding new ways for kids to express themselves.
In the choir world, singers are no longer using the much loved choir room as their sanctuary. They meet in the theater for class, sitting with their own chairs and music stands six feet apart from everyone else.
Choir members have also been encouraged to buy special masks made for singing. They allow for more open space around the mouth, better projection, and minimize any muffling, one of the biggest issues we face with normal masks.
“It’s definitely a change,” says Sophia Trinidad, a member of Madrigals, “ It can be hard to be on the same page as your section when you’re so far apart. Choir doesn’t always feel like a community anymore because we can’t talk as much or do activities together -like the retreats or the parties- so we’re all kind of disconnected as a whole sometimes.”
The split cohorts only add to the struggle, cutting almost all the sections in half and making it very difficult for choirs to compensate for a lack of voices.
Meanwhile, for the band kids, a plethora of new challenges face them.
Ethan Dunlop, a member of the marching band, says, “We have to take our masks off during class, or else we can’t play our instruments. I know that makes some people feel a little uncomfortable, which is why we use the choir room and the band room now, to maximize the distance between us.”
With half the band missing, the pressure is on to make sure you know what you’re doing.
“The added pressure can definitely be seen as a good thing,” adds Dunlop. “But it can also be a little overwhelming sometimes. You need to know your part because sometimes you’ll be the only person in your class playing it, but with the stress of all our other classes on top of us, it’s hard to find enough time to practice our band pieces over and over.”
Out in the mobiles, dance classes have been lucky enough to proceed somewhat normally.
“It can be a little difficult to dance while you’re wearing a mask,” says Krirana Preeyapanich, a member of training company. “But other than that, not much has changed from previous years. The smaller numbers are actually kind of nice because there’s more room to dance without accidentally running into other groups. We’ve gotten the chance to help out with the lower level dance classes a lot more this year, and we still do all the same projects we would have done any other year.”
Besides the loss of an occasional field trip, dance classes here at Eaglecrest have been able to run quite smoothly and with minimal change.
However, the same cannot be said for the theater classes. Still taught in the theater room, the structure of the way classes are run has been completely altered to make up for lack of time and students.
“It was a given that we’d see pretty big changes in an art form that thrives off human interaction,” says Joseph Steele, a harlequin player. “But it’s still hard to handle sometimes. The worst part is the lack of contact. Last year, we were able to have this amazing blocking where we became the set in the show, and something like that just can’t happen this year. The separate cohorts have also really changed the feeling of Harlequin because we now have to ask ourselves what is reasonably possible within these new limitations. It’s hard to be creative when we can’t bounce ideas off everyone else in the class.”
Instead of the traditional play usually performed by the Harlequin players at semester, they will be performing a compilation of creative skits, all falling under one essential question.
Most of these branches are still unsure of what these performances or concerts will look like with the state of our country so haphazard at the moment.
But in these moments of trial and error, we must remember that it is life who gets inspiration from us, and not the other way around.

“The object of art is to give life shape.”
– William Shakespeare