How the performing arts endure a pandemic

Brianna Corley 

Copy Editor 

All departments of Northwestern State University have faced life-altering changes due to the ongoing pandemic, but the School of Creative and Performing Arts had to undergo some of the most difficult changes. 

The theatre department’s spaces have dramatically changed with multiple precautions in place such as mandatory masks, strictly marked off entrances and exits and distance between all theatre majors. 

Shari Wilson, a senior theater and English major said that she was a little worried because theatre is just not as it used to be. 

 “But I delight myself in knowing art finds a way,” Wilson said. 

Wilson said that after hearing the news that NSU would return to in-person instruction in the fall, and if the department upheld guidelines and kept clean, that everything would work out. 

“The hardest change to adjust to for me emotionally is not being able to hug everyone I come into contact with,” Wilson said. “And my hardest more academic adjustment is just finding the motivation to be creative at such a slump in life.” 

Sarah Talbolt, a junior dance major, said she misses the smaller parts of what was once a part of everyday life in the dance department. 

“During a regular year we will all gather in the hallways and chat with fellow dance majors and theatre majors before and after class,” Talbolt said. 

Only 14 people are allowed in the largest dance studio and as a direct result, many of Talbolt’s class sizes have dropped or changed to HyFlex.  

There is tape across studio floors to indicate to each dancer where they need to stand. 

“Despite all the changes that needed to be made in the department due to COVID-19, I knew it would be better than taking dance classes online,” Talbolt said. “And it’s always nice to watch your peers dance in class to motivate and inspire you.” 

Makayla Goff, a junior voice major, had mixed feelings about returning to class in the fall. 

“I missed singing and hang out with friends,” Goff said. “But I was also very nervous about how things were changing.” 

Voice majors now take most classes virtually and choir members are required to sit six feet apart and wear a mask.  

“One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn how to do is sing with a mask on and learn how to take nice full breaths with a mask on,” Goff said. 

Goff said one of the largest adjustments has been online classes. She finds it hard to stay engaged when there is not a teacher to actively interact with. 

“Because of COVID doing things like observing a class or even student teaching will be a challenge that might affect how I learn and even how I teach later on in my studies,” Goff said. 

Temperatures are checked every time dance majors enter the studio, and each student is required to self-evaluate themselves with questions posted outside of the studio door.  

Wilson said the changes have made her comfortable and that if even one masks slips off professors will immediately take the person’s temperature. 

“A typical day for me is going to my auditions class where we all get out temperatures taken so we can say our monologues with our masks off with the appropriate distance,” Wilson said. 

“Sadly, Theatre and Entertainment will probably never go back to the way it was,” Wilson said. 

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