New Documentary Play Spotlights Challenges of Teaching and Learning During the Pandemic
This weekend, the Ő“Ůę…Á«Ý Theatre Department will stage a live reading of a new documentary play by Theatre Professor Sharon Green.Őż
Green‚Äôs piece, ‚ÄúTeaching and Learning in Pandemic Times,‚ÄĚ 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 Ő“Ůę…Á«Ý students.Őż
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¬†.Őż
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‚ÄĒteaching 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‚Äôs impact.Őż
I wanted to make sure that we remember that time‚ÄĒwhat educators went through and what they did for all of us. It‚Äôs 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‚ÄĒI want to make sure we don‚Äôt 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 ‚Äď they came to all of the interviews, were crucial in recruiting interviewees, and helped me collect additional relevant data. I wasn‚Äôt sure what we‚Äôd discover or if it would be material that would make an engaging play. By the time the third interview was over, I was like, ‚ÄúOh my god, these stories! This is definitely the stuff that theatre is made of.‚ÄĚ
Then last summer, I spent two weeks as an artist-in-residence with the Eugene O‚ÄôNeill Foundation at Tao House in Danville, California ‚Äď Tao House was O‚ÄôNeill‚Äôs 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 Ő“Ůę…Á«Ý 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‚Äôt sure what I‚Äôd do with it after that.Őż
Then, my colleague Ann Marie Costa offered to direct a staged reading of it. I thought, wow! We‚Äôve been colleagues for almost 25 years, but we‚Äôve never worked together in this way ‚Äď it is an incredible and exciting opportunity to see my work brought to life by her directing expertise.Őż
What should attendees expect?
It‚Äôs a staged reading, which means we will have scripts in-hand. The cast includes three professional actors, three students and me.Őż
After the performance, we‚Äôve invited local educators to be part of our ‚Äúcommunity response panel‚ÄĚ and offer their thoughts. Then all members of the audience will be invited to share a meal and their feedback. We‚Äôll also be raffling off some gifts for teachers.