Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Senior theatre students respond to switch to remote learning

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

COVID-19 has forced Southeast students out of their lives as normal students and into the unpredictable world of remote learning. Senior performing arts students, such as those involved with the theatre department, feel deeply the loss of their last moments on campus.

The pandemic began its interruption of student lives when the university sent an email to students announcing that, for the week of March 23 through 27, all in-person courses would be suspended.

Soon after that, cancellations began. All shows on the River Campus, Greek Week, blood drives and campus events would no longer occur.

Remote learning has been quite the change for the Southeast community. Some classes meet via Zoom, a video conference site. Other classes will require performing students to individually send video clips to their professors.

Francesca Bucci, a senior acting and public relations student, spoke about the misfortunes of her last semester being cut short.

“I had a list of everything I wanted to do before I graduated, and now I won’t be able to experience a lot of those things,” Bucci said.

Not all preparation from the first half of the semester is wasted. Bucci was cast in a Southeast production of “The Wolves,” a play about a girl’s soccer team. “The Wolves” performance has been pushed back to Sept. 16 and will include all members who were cast for the original April 22 performance.

“There are two seniors cast in the show, and we have both been invited back to perform in September,” Bucci said.

Some students have not allowed the distance to get the best of them, such as senior acting major Tyler Battista, who has organized a radio theatre group. The group has chosen a performance and will rehearse virtually until they are ready to livestream a performance, which will potentially be available in a podcast format.

Battista will direct a cast of eight Southeast students to perform a rendition of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Senior performing arts students were scheduled to take a trip to New York during the week of spring break. This showcase allows the students to display their skills in one of the busiest cities in the United States.

New York is also home to Broadway productions, in which many theatre students dream of participating. This trip was canceled due to safety concerns and Broadway closings.

“It really sucks because this is an event seniors look forward to all year, and now we don’t know if we’ll have a showcase at all,” Battista said.

Senior musical theatre major Abigail Becker expressed the switch to remote learning should not impact seniors’ ability to graduate or find professional work.

“A lot of us have already taken essential performance classes in person,” Becker said. “But for the underclassmen, it may be difficult now that these classes are online.”

Becker, Bucci and Battista all offered the same advice to artists stuck at home: “Don’t stop creating.”