All the home’s a stage for MCC Theatre Department

Kevin Dressler teaching Shakespearean acting courtesy of Kevin Dressler
While some Mesa Community College (MCC) classes have made an easy adjustment to online in March, the MCC Theatre Department has faced unique challenges without their stage.

“The transitions have been very interesting to say the least,” said MCC theatre student Rebecca Nation who is currently taking a design class. “It’s completely changed. We all have to create our costume and set renderings on photoshop.”

Nation performed inside her home using the Zoom video communication service for her acting classes. 

“We’ve had to learn how to create performance art that relies on live audiences and turn it around so it’s completely online,” said Nation.

Residential theatre faculty Kevin Dressler said because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s societal changes, he focuses his acting students on monologues to narrow in on character work.

“My class is not worried so much about doing two person scenes,” said Dressler, “because I don’t even want to try that in an online environment. That would be a failure.”

Dressler expressed it was a wonderful surprise to see most of his students stay on board during the online transition. Only two of his students dropped out of his classes during the beginning of March. Because actors couldn’t meet in person, he focused on teaching exercises the students could practice at home. 

“There are exercises for creating the physical life for the character, breaking down the script and finding the given circumstance.”

Dressler advised his students in both acting and diction to practice, practice, practice and to create a self evaluation plan for craft progression.

However, one major change was the end of the semester showcase where students usually present their hard work onstage at MCC.

“We created a new works festival in place of our stage show this semester that’s completely over zoom,” Nation said. 

The New Work Zoom Festival took place from May 1-3, featuring performances from students inside of their homes. Nation wrote a piece for the festival titled “Mutual,” about two Mormon girls struggling to explore both their religion and their relationship.

However difficult the circumstance, Dressler expressed his students had done well throughout the spring semester. He changed his curriculum to suit online and reminded students how important independent practice would be.  

“The theatre department as you know,” said Dressler. “We very much operate from the standpoint of the show must go on.

About Author

Allison Cripe is a guest writer for the Mesa Legend. She also writes songs and short stories such as this one in Across the Margin: Dogs are her spirit animal(s).

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