Jenny Cameron at VLUK’s partner, Stagedoor Learning, gives her account of what lockdown life meant for her and our students.
We went fully online on Monday 23rd March, so there was no gap for our students – they just went directly from face to face on Friday 20th to zoom on Monday 23rd. During lockdown, we were actually really productive – way more than I thought we’d be able to be, especially given the practical nature of the course. We had to adapt some of the projects we’d begun, but the students were really positive about doing that, and, in some cases, preferred being able to work on the more theoretical elements of the course from home. One of the most positive and fulfilling projects was the work that the first year students did for their Performing Arts in the Community module. We were supposed to be doing a live performance at Cheltenham Children’s Festival, but ended up doing a digital project instead, which involved creating and videoing resources for primary school children to use either at school or at home. Each of the first years also chose and filmed themselves reading a poem, which was sent each day to a primary school in Lincolnshire, along with fun activities, based on the poems. We had some lovely feedback from the children and their teachers, including pictures the children had drawn, poems they’d written, and even some videos of them reading their own poems aloud. We also continued with our regular singing tuition, adapting to doing that on zoom, and including some 1-2-1 sessions with the singing teacher, which we don’t usually do regularly when we’re at Stagedoor HQ. We carried on with our Big Thursday Question, where the whole group gets together to discuss or debate questions, and also carried on watching theatre productions, using National Theatre Live.
As well as adapting to online teaching, the students also got involved with some fun projects – during the Easter holidays, we set a Virtual Variety Show challenge, involving all of the Stagedoor students – they got “together”, virtually, planning, filmed and edited their shows, which were then judged by a panel of professionals from the Everyman Theatre. A group were also involved in a worldwide Coronavirus Time Capsule project, making a video each week to document their time in lockdown.
The winning variety show, some of the poems of the day. and the time capsule videos can be viewed on our YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/
channel/UCLoR- 9FcqCWQStOUMHEYkYw/videos? view_as=subscriber
I asked three of the students for their comments…
Becky (2nd year student) – Continuing with work online throughout lockdown gave me a reason to keep motivated. It was fun doing singing lessons over zoom – it was really productive and I think I took in more doing it that way.
Mat (1st year student) – One of the most enjoyable pieces of work that I have completed during lockdown has been our group project for the Community Arts unit, where we developed and created various resources which were subsequently used for children in primary schools. Similarly, another memorable piece of work was our collective contribution to “Poem for the Day”. It was great to get the opportunity to see the streamed and previously recorded National Theatre Live productions, something which we might not otherwise have had the chance to see.
Emily (1st year student) – One of the things I’ve particularly enjoyed during lockdown has been participating in regular singing workshops via zoom, in which we’ve been able to focus on improving our technique, as well as maintaining the progress we’d made before lockdown. Something else I’ve enjoyed has been having weekly access to a range of different pre-recorded productions on National Theatre Live, as a replacement for our regular trips to the Everyman Theatre. As well as this, it was great to have the chance to record and edit our own virtual variety shows, as it’s given us the opportunity to still do an element of the practical and performance work we’d usually be doing at college, but at home.
VLUK are very proud of how all our education partners have handled this difficult situation and our students seem to have thrived during this time. The future for September looks very positive and all our partners are currently focusing on working with government guidelines to ensure a smooth transition for all our students.