Performing through a worldwide pandemic

Performing arts teachers, students make the best of the situation by getting creative


Ally Landgraf, Reporter

Six months ago, students from all areas of performing arts, theatre, orchestra, choir and band, were happily enjoying their activities, maskless and without worries.

Ever since the first breakout of Covid-19, everyone’s lives have changed, and those carefree days have come to a sudden halt. Every aspect of a student’s life has been altered from online classes to wearing a mask all day, but for performing arts students it has become a more apparent challenge.

Sophomore Emily Cooper shares her experience with the new changes to the NAHS Theatre program.

“With all of the safety precautions, our performances have been put on hold for the semester,”  Cooper said. “We luckily have a good teacher that will do everything she can to help us still be involved.”

Cooper has been in theatre since her freshman year and, along with her peers, are experiencing theatre with a worldwide pandemic looming over their heads. With an ongoing pandemic, people must take every safety precaution so that everyone is healthy and safe — this is no different with NAHS theatre.

Theatre Director Amy Miller has been working to find safe ways to continue to engage her students, even if that might be through a screen.

“We are starting to think about new ways to do things online and with the health restrictions in place,” Miller said. “We are working on a virtual cabaret or playfest and doing lots of workshops in place of a traditional production. Students can take weekly dance classes, work with professionals in the industry, and learn about the backstage aspects of theatre.”

It’s very hard adjusting to something like a global pandemic, especially when activities is so social. The use of Google Meet and events with high safety monitoring has made theatre at least possible. The cancellation or pause of theatre shows and occasions are a big necessity for the safety of students and staff since the activity involves so many people. 

“There are just so many factors we can’t control and when we do a musical there are so many people involved, it would be very difficult to do right now,” Miller said. “There are no theatres running, even in the professional world.”

Covid-19 has not only affected our schools theatre, but also theatres all across the country. The pause and cancellation of theatre may seem discouraging to theatre arts students but they have continued to stay determined and hopeful for a future of shows and normalcy. 

“It’s very sad to not be able to do the thing I love the most and I can’t wait for things to go back to normal,” Cooper said.

Along with theatre, the Bulldog band has been trying every way possible to have a close to normal band program. That includes separation, masks and the continuous cleaning of instruments. Playing instruments with masks may seem impossible, but for Band Director Desmond Anderson, he has made it work.

“We meet outside for most of our classes and things are more individual based,” Anderson said. “We do not currently have concerts scheduled and we are figuring out things as we go.”

The use of Google Meets and online opportunities is something the band program has taken advantage of as well. For Marching Band, they practice in masks and stay six feet apart for as long as possible, and even have online practices so they aren’t exposed to each other too much. As for other extracurriculars concerning band, it is hard to know the future.

Junior Lilly Lewison has been in band throughout high school and middle school, and shares great concern for the future of band.

“Concerts are a high risk and hard to organize safely, and pep band would be very difficult  because we‘re all bunched up in the stands, and even if we divided up the band in half like we normally do we’d still take up quite a bit of room,” Lewison said.

Even with strict safety precautions in place, concerts and activities such as pep band could be too dangerous to continue. Yet, Anderson believes we will make it through this tough time and find a way to get back to the way we were six months ago.

“I just want to make music and no matter what is happening I’m going to figure out a way to do that,” Anderson said. “I hope that the pandemic will end and we can go back to making music together in person.” 

Choir has also been one of the performing arts affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. With singing, it can be hard in masks and to take them off for short periods of time just releases more bacteria in the air, possibly spreading Covid-19 further. Over Google Meet, it can be difficult because it may not sound the same and many problems can go wrong. As a choir student, Dana Wright finds this new experience frustrating.

“I mean the sports teams are still getting their games, and as an athlete that makes me happy, but I also wish I could have my choir concerts as well,” Wright said.

Not only has choir concerts been put on hold, but so have the field trips. The field trips the choir students would normally take typically had more than three or more other choirs there as well and that’s a big roadblock with the six feet apart rule. With all the precautions, it seems that a future of choir events may be later rather than sooner.

“Look at the people in the 1920’s, they got through a pandemic and they didn’t have the technology we have now,” Wright said. “I think it will get better but never back to where we were before Covid-19.”

Orchestra, along with theatre, band, and choir, has been greatly affected as well. The same as other performing arts, the concerts have been put on hold and every safety measure has been taken for everyone to be safe and healthy. The major use of Google Meet has made Orchestra at least possible. Junior Sydney Zuckschwerdt, an orchestra student, has experienced these meets first hand.

“Rehearsal can be a challenge because it’s hard to balance sound and hear all the parts together through a computer or speaker,” Zuckschwerdt said. “Then of course mask wearing, Orchestra is definitely the easiest performing art to wear a mask in but it still takes some getting used to.”

Being in a global pandemic, it definitely comes with its challenges. The world was hit with this disease so quickly that the performing arts had to find ways to change and mold their programs to fit requirements and be as safe as possible.

“I understand why everything has to change,”  Zuckschwerdt said. “But, I don’t know if it’s possible to look at it all and not be disappointed and wish things were back to normal.”

Even taking in all that has changed and been cancelled or postponed, the students and staff of NAHS performing arts are determined and hopeful for a future where everything can return to normal.