New Documentary Play Spotlights Challenges of Teaching and Learning During the Pandemic

on stage rehearsal of Teaching and Learning in Pandemic Times

Students and professional actors will read an original work by Theatre Professor Sharon Green that elevates the experiences of teachers living and working through the pandemic.

This weekend, the Theatre Department will stage a live reading of a new documentary play by Theatre Professor Sharon Green.

Green’s piece, “Teaching and Learning in Pandemic Times,” is a documentary play that examines and commemorates the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on teachers, administrators and school counselors who were asked to adapt, often with no preparation and no resources. The play is based on the verbatim text from interviews conducted by Green and students.

The staged reading is free and open to all. It will be immediately followed by responses from local educators.

Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 2, and 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 3, in the Barber Theatre, Cunningham Theatre Center.

The play is free and open to the public, but .

students rehearsing for theatre performance Teaching and Learning in Pandemic Times

What got you started on this project?

In fall of 2021 I would go on walks with my neighbors, one of whom is a teacher for CMS. We walked and shared stories about our day, the challenges we faced and the things teachers were dealing with—teaching became so much harder, and teachers were asked to do things that went far above and beyond their regular duties. They were seeing into the lives of their students in ways that shed light on the pandemic’s impact.

I wanted to make sure that we remember that time—what educators went through and what they did for all of us. It’s easy to forget. In a lot of ways, it feels like the pandemic is way behind us. But its impact is still being felt in schools—I want to make sure we don’t forget how hard it was.

How do you create a documentary play?

I started with interviews and research. With support from a faculty study and research grant from the college in 2022 I recruited a handful of students who worked with me – they came to all of the interviews, were crucial in recruiting interviewees, and helped me collect additional relevant data. I wasn’t sure what we’d discover or if it would be material that would make an engaging play. By the time the third interview was over, I was like, “Oh my god, these stories! This is definitely the stuff that theatre is made of.”

Then last summer, I spent two weeks as an artist-in-residence with the Eugene O’Neill Foundation at Tao House in Danville, California – Tao House was O’Neill’s former residence. I had two glorious weeks without any distractions and shaped all the material into this play. Everything in the script is taken verbatim from the interviews we conducted, and supplementary research I conducted.

I brought it back to in July and invited a group of students who were in town for the summer to do a table read of the first draft. They gave me excellent feedback which fueled an additional round of edits, but I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it after that.

Then, my colleague Ann Marie Costa offered to direct a staged reading of it. I thought, wow! We’ve been colleagues for almost 25 years, but we’ve never worked together in this way – it is an incredible and exciting opportunity to see my work brought to life by her directing expertise.

What should attendees expect?

It’s a staged reading, which means we will have scripts in-hand. The cast includes three professional actors, three students and me.

After the performance, we’ve invited local educators to be part of our “community response panel” and offer their thoughts. Then all members of the audience will be invited to share a meal and their feedback. We’ll also be raffling off some gifts for teachers.


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Published

  • January 31, 2024

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Photography

  • Emma Kitchin '25