Performing arts students find new outlets amid pandemic

After all of STA’s live performances were cancelled for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to COVID-19, STA’s performing arts students are learning how to pursue their passion remotely.

by Beatrice Curry, Writer

When junior Isabel Mayer learned that the upcoming choir show at Rockhurst High School was cancelled due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, her disappointment was palpable. The cast had been rehearsing for most of the second semester and this was going to be a special moment for Mayer.

“This was going to be my lead, and it was a role I began to love over the rehearsal process,” Mayer said. “It felt like I put a lot of work into a role for nothing.” 

Choir members like Mayer saw a great deal of cancellations this semester. The options for rescheduling performances are limited given the uncertainty of when crowd restrictions will be lifted. Choir member Lauren Peters acknowledges the difficulty schools face when trying to reschedule performances.

 “There’s nothing they really can do at this point,” Peters said. “I mean yes there could be summer performances, but no one really knows if this will all be over by then.” 

Peters understands why the cancellations are necessary but still feels the loss of their  concert for herself and the choir as a whole.

“We had been working so hard and to see that it was canceled was tragic,” Peters said. “Along with that, the performing arts banquet — one of the choir’s favorite concerts of the year— was also canceled.” 

As disappointing as the cancellations are for Peters, she doesn’t miss performing for others so much as she misses the community that accompanies choir. 

“I miss performing with all my friends and choir family and for some of our seniors, I didn’t realize it would be our last time performing together at our last concert in December.,” Peters said.  “I can’t even imagine how they’re feeling right now.”

In the absence of choir, Peters has been passing the time by singing and playing the ukulele. Mayer is involved in theater as well as choir and has been continuing to practice both.

 “I have been warming up and singing for enjoyment,” Mayer said. “I’m also doing online acting classes which is really cool.” 

Like choir, STA’s theater department has suffered some cancellations due to COVID-19. STA’s Reader’s Theater has been called off altogether and student productions will no longer happen live.

After the cancellation of live student productions, senior Genesis Jeffries chose to direct her student production remotely. 

“We got the option of filming it or recording it on Zoom and having it uploaded to the Facebook page,” Jeffries said. 

Jeffries is in contact with her cast, and they are figuring out how to restructure the production.

“I plan on going in a totally new direction now that we’re in quarantine that’ll make more sense, it would just be like a regular script reading,” Jeffries said. 

Jeffries’ acting studio class with theater teacher Shana Prentiss has also turned digital. This semester, they are working on a solo acting project.

“You can either do a monologue or a five minute part of a TV show — you film it and you send it to [Prentiss] — it’s really fun,” Jeffries said.

The aesthetic components of theater are still present in digital theater, although Jeffries must now be her own costume crew.

 “It’s a lot of makeup,” Jeffries said. “It’s a lot of going through your closet. You have to kind of reinvent yourself and these characters. You have to learn all the lines and things of that nature.” 

So far, the changes that have come with this pandemic have not impacted Jeffries’ future in performing arts.

 “I still love theater, this is just a clog in the wheel,” Jeffries said. “I think this could make a lot of actors more powerful because we have to sit at home and look at ourselves in the mirror and act.”

Jeffries has found a multitude of ways to explore solo acting. She has plenty of suggestions for people who are looking to perform during quarantine.

 “Just make really cute movies, or make Tik Toks or act out ‘Highschool Musical.’ Whatever you do as long as you feel good about yourself doing it,” Jeffries said. “I just tell other people to have fun because even though you’re not in front of other people you can still do things for yourself.”