After the decision was made by USD to extend spring break and move classes online temporarily, COVID-19 has impacted the theater department, both in the classroom and on the stage.
Due to the pandemic, the department has been working on meeting the needs of students through online course delivery. Due to the recommended safe social distancing practices all theater productions have been canceled for the remainder of the year.
Additionally, the department is focusing on shifting courses for online delivery. Dr. Raimond Genna, chair and associate professor in the department said in an email in an email interview with The Volante the transition is difficult as most classes focus on kinesthetic and hands-on learning.
While some courses can be somewhat adapted, a large number of classes have to be reimagined in order to fit online delivery, he said.
“We are thankful for the extra week so we could map out how we will be modifying our classes to meet the needs of our students while trying to maintain our specific learning outcomes,” Genna said.
USD has also canceled all USD hosted events through April 30. This included both the Ron L. Moyer One-Act Festival, scheduled to open on March 20 and the final show of the season, The Drowsy Chaperone.
While the department wishes the productions could happen, holding such events could risk spreading the virus further and they understand, Genna said.
“We agree with the university’s focus on trying to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19,” Genna said. “The safety of our students and community must take precedence.”
The department couldn’t do a show and practice safe social distancing, even if they could perform to an empty house.
Genna said it takes a community to mount a show and the department couldn’t do so and practice safe social distancing.
“This has been a painful process for our students as they have put so much time and effort into their rehearsing, designing, and building these shows already,” Genna said.
Genna said he appreciates the students involved with the productions and said he knows they will return in the fall with a renewed drive.
“Though I’m sorry for not providing our senior students the proper ending of their USD careers,” Genna said. “I am thrilled that they are healthy and safe.”