A letter from our CSUN Theatre Department Chair, Anamarie Dwyer...
Hola Theatre Majors and Minors –
I pray that you are safe at home wherever that may be for you currently and that you are healthy. It has been a very challenging time that extended from days, into weeks, and now months coping with all the adjustments you and I had to make. We continue to be challenged by the ever-present threat of another wave. I want to take a few moments to update you on what is happening in the Department of Theatre and what we are doing to help ensure that you receive the best possible learning we can provide in our current COVID-19 environment.
Together we (students, faculty and staff) had to face the uncertainty of how the virus would impact our health, work, social communities, our very lives. Those first weeks, I didn’t have time to try to manage this trauma as “Anamarie,” I had to stay in my “Chair of the Theatre Department” role to facilitate faculty and student needs, administrative and curricular needs and it was daunting. Through that time, I had the privilege of witnessing your faculty work diligently, under historic circumstances, pushing past their own personal struggles to provide instruction and curriculum; students needed to earn a grade at the end of the semester, students were expecting to share their artistic endeavors, students were expecting to complete their degree and graduate! The Spring 2020 semester did not look as we had envisioned in January, but we made it through. Faculty shared with me how resilient and creative you were as you figured how to accomplish assignments and learning! Thank you for your efforts.
Throughout history, artists have been the ones who express and mirror society’s truth even if it is ugly, distressing, or most importantly challenging because artists are concerned with creating – and our power is in creating, creating for change, creating for betterment. Across nations artists are coming together to innovate online teaching in the arts. Your faculty is coming together as artists and educators to innovate how to provide you with the very best we can so that you can succeed no matter what the “new normal” looks like. It’s all very exciting!
I know that you have many questions about Fall 2020. I don’t have all the answers, but I can relate how we are preparing for a virtual Fall 2020 semester. First, let’s not forget that these changes revolve around the issue of HEALTH, and not just sickness, but life and death. Secondly, let’s not forget that switching to virtual classes is temporary (I am nothing if not hopeful).
Faculty are spending their summer learning about online pedagogy, technology, participating in webinars, speaking with artists and colleagues across the nation and around the world about how to teach theatre virtually and seeking strategies for making virtual theatre meaningful and exciting.
We are re-thinking what production participation looks like in this environment and working on partnering with CTVA for technical and acting opportunities.
We are taking a close look at courses and considering how more presentation/performance project opportunities can happen there.
We petitioned for our activity courses to have some face-to-face time on campus. The CDC and CSU Protocol for social distancing was distributed and our long list of courses was cut down to 5 courses, and then one course. Right now, under review are ourproductions—can students come together for production purposes? We don’t have an answer yet, but directors are moving forward with plans to film remotely and possibly on-campus in small groups if we are permitted.
- We have submitted proposals for funding to purchase tripods, floor mics, body mics, over the ear mics, lighting, green screens, and webcams for faculty and students to check out and use on campus for filming monologues, 2-3 person scenes, etc., while following social distancing protocols.
- The office staff is establishing processes to be available to welcome you back, answer questions, and point you to resources.
- Technical staff will also be working to assist with a semester of virtual theatre making and exploring how we bring an audience to virtual performance projects. The technical staff will also be spending time maintaining lab spaces and theatre spaces in preparation for our eventual return to face-to-face interactions – what a celebration that will be!
- The department drafted and posted a strong, action-oriented statement on Black Lives Matter that can be viewed on social media and the Department of Theatre webpage at csun.edu/theatre. Along with you we will continue to create transformative art that proclaims Black Lives Matter.
We are looking forward to seeing you in class, in rehearsal, and in performance. Classes and production will look different but the Department of Theatre remains committed to supporting and empowering the education and creative expression of all our students and colleagues. We will make theatre. We stand together to help move you forward, to move you “adelante.”
Adelante con cariño
Anamarie Dwyer, Chair
Department of Theatre
Phone: 818.677.3086 | Fax: 818.677.2080