In the weirdest form of global solidarity, the world is adapting to life in quarantine. It’s a learning curve for sure, but we’ll power through. College students across the world had their lives uprooted and uploaded online. For most, they just feel slightly inconvenienced by this change.
However, I’m studying Musical Theater, and Broadway isn’t built to exist through a screen.
That’s right–Broadway school has gone virtual. Of course, this raises many questions. Is it possible to take Ballet in your bedroom? Does your family mind the sound of belted song coming from the living room? Can you pull off an acting scene over Zoom? The truest answer I can give to any of these questions is… I’m figuring it out. My first week of online class was filled with roadblocks. I learned the WiFi in my childhood bedroom is not compatible with Zoom. My wonderful dog, Moka, loves to bark whenever any door in the house opens. My mom has the strongest urge to vacuum whenever I take myself off of mute.
I never thought I’d have to readjust to life at home, yet here we are.
With all of these distractions, I could feel my performance quality slowly slipping through the cracks. Despite having all of my classmates in front of me on my computer, I was incredibly disconnected–both emotionally and electronically. To me, the best thing about musical theater is the emotional connection I build with my scene partners, which wasn’t possible on the Zoom platform. My motivation to work plummeted. I found myself resenting the one thing I loved most in the world–musical theater. Zoom ruined what brought me the most joy…or so I thought.
We often hear that a positive mindset is the key to success. Once reality sets in, we quickly realize that the pursuit of positivity isn’t always easy. While I know negativity can hinder productivity in hard times (like a worldwide pandemic, perhaps), it’s difficult not to dwell on it. I also knew a pity party wouldn’t help either. In spite of our current situation, I’m learning to find the happy–and realistic–medium. Not every day will be perfect. It will have its ups and downs, just like normal life… but personal success stems from making the best of a tough situation.
I pride myself on my creativity, especially when faced with a problem.
My inventiveness helps me find my way out of tough situations. I know that I can’t control the future, but I can make decisions that impact my present. With this new mindset, I slowly found ways to adapt to my new performance space.
The first problem to solve: Dance classes. How am I supposed to pirouette my way onto Broadway if I don’t have a full dance studio at my disposal? Thanks to lowered expectations, rearranging of furniture, a cheap, detachable dance floor set (thanks Amazon Prime!) and a Bluetooth speaker, I temporarily transformed my bedroom into a dance studio. Is it perfect? Hell, no. Will it do for now? It will have to.
The second problem to solve: Acting classes. I need to be able to emotionally connect with my scene partner in order to tell our characters’ stories properly, which requires vulnerability. An online platform makes something already difficult to achieve ten times harder. How was I going to perform a scene through Zoom? Easy– change the medium. After some discussion and planning, my partner and I decided to stage our Shakespeare scene as if it were a film. For our final, we recreated our scene from Richard III with puppets–and both our teacher and peers loved it. I realized it didn’t make sense to pretend Zoom is live theater, but I could manipulate it to fit my circumstances.
That’s the beauty of art.
In addition to my newfound problem-solving skills, I’ve started to explore creative endeavors and projects I “didn’t have time for” prior to quarantine. I reignited my passion for bullet journaling, a personal organization, grid-based journal with tons of room for personal flair and creativity within each page. I started playing piano again. I even gave in and downloaded TikTok, which proves highly addictive in the best way possible. I’m learning that just because “normal” life is on hold doesn’t mean the pursuit of happiness has to stop.
In short, “adapt and overcome” has never rung more true than right now. Along with flattening the COVID-19 curve, we are learning to adjust our learning curve to online work. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s all we have right now. My advice to college students everywhere, regardless of major, is simple: lean into what makes you happiest right now, and quarantine will Zoom by.