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Those of you working in HE Drama: what's up with your assessments/


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I currently work in a university drama department, and like everyone else, we have had to adjust the curriculum delivery and production schedules in the hope that our MA students and 3rd year undergrad students will be able to stage their productions in the summer term. Some academic members of staff seem to think that everybody will have a vaccine and we can resume activity as normal after Easter. Given that this is particularly optimistic (I believe that would be a polite way of putting it...) I was wondering what other drama departments/conservatoires are offering their students for assessments or practical work? Obviously, we all want to provide the best training, education and experience that we can, but we're also very much aware of taking care of our own health.


We've advised our staff and students that we will be taking our lead from professional productions and conservatoires when it comes to staging performances. Between September and lockdown 2 (rule of 6, etc) we had to fight of many requests for staging productions for live audiences, as many did not understand the guidelines and restrictions, and the resources required to do so safely. Our team's instinct is to advise that all performances are filmed or streamed to an audience rather than performed live with a socially distanced audience. I've seen evidence that last term, some institutions were putting shows on with reduced tech and staging, more like concert stagings to allow for social distancing (Royal Welsh), and others where their performances seemed to be fully staged with performers in close contact with each other (ArtsEd), but in either case performances were streamed. Is this something that others are expecting to be the norm?


Unlike Nimax and LW, we don't have a dedicated team of ushers, so technical staff would be the ones operating front of house and there would therefore be an increase in contact with the general public that we would not be comfortable with, so anything that we can do to reduce contact (like streaming) is what we're going to suggest.


With regards to bubbles of six if there has to be contact, we all know that the second students leave the rehearsal room, social distancing and safety measures go out the window. They may live with people outside those bubbles and to be young and amorous is to not care about close contact with strangers. So there is additional concern for staff about close contact with students during production periods. Our institution does not offer technical courses, so our team would normally be expected to work with students on technical and design aspects of their productions. Has anybody else found a good way of dealing with this?


In general, I'm interested in how others are staging shows and assessments in light of the current pandemic (and having to deal with those who don't understand the practicalities of staging productions, but insisting that they go ahead).

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I teach backstage production at level 3 in a tiny studio theatre, so our numbers are lower than yours I suspect, but last term we put on two productions which were recorded and live streamed. All productions are designed, built and opped by students. Trouble was, we were only allowed on site for two days a week instead of the usual five, yet we were still working to our standard 6 week production schedule. It damn near killed everyone and left morale at an all time low, despite being one of the only colleges around still actually able to do shows. This term we've re-written the next assessment brief to exclude the necessity to actually do a show. We're now 100% online and using EOS Nomad with Capture to teach lighting design, and sending out resource packs for them to build model boxes. So they still have to design a show for their assignment, they just won't actually be staging it. It comes with the obvious downside that they don't get to realise their ideas on a physical stage, but on the other hand, it forces them to work to a much higher level of detail when producing working drawings, rig plots etc, since the brief is that they need to spec their shows as if it really were going on, but without them having any access to the venue during the design process to try things out and experiment as they normally would. Time will tell if this has been a successful approach or not.


As for the performing arts course, they seem to be doing lots of baking.

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