Theatre Is Alive and Thriving During the Pandemic–in Schools

March 11, 2021

A year into the pandemic, Broadway is still dark. Many professional theatres are still closed. But theatre is still very much alive, thanks to the creativity and resilience of theatre teachers and students.

During this academic year, schools around the country have become pioneers in new ways of making theatre, including outdoor productions, radio plays, drive-in theatres, virtual performances, and masked, socially distanced traditional productions. In working through the challenges of COVID, students are developing the “four C’s of 21st-century skills”: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

McKenna McEveety of Thespian Troupe 1573 at Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California, is one of those students. For her troupe’s virtual production of Emma, McKenna and another student served as makeup designer. “We’re filming tutorial videos on how to do the makeup and hair,” she said. “It’s been interesting to see how all of this works online, and it’s been teaching me a lot of really good communication skills because we have to be on the same page, but we’re not actually together.”

This video illustrates how Troupe 1573 and other schools have persevered to sustain their theatre programs in challenging circumstances — including the financial losses from productions unexpectedly canceled last school year.

COVID-19 resulted in roughly 90% of school theatre programs canceling productions last spring, according to an Educational Theatre Association survey. The Thespian Relief Fund is helping school theatre programs overcome those pandemic-related losses by providing grants to sustain their programs — with more than 145 grants awarded to 114 schools to date. Here’s how you can help.

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