Posted in English 1103, Teaching, Theatre

ENG 1103: Teacher/Actor

When I am not teaching, you may find me at the theatre preparing for another role. Though I have played an English teacher twice, I am often someone quite different from myself: a seventy-two-year-old bag lady, a medieval abbess, or a Spanish-speaking maid

Clockwise from right: Rosalind (Stephanie Nussbaum), Duchess Fredericka (Jane Lucas), and Celia (Maggie Swaim) in dress rehearsal for the Shared Radiance Zoom production of As You Like It.

When the pandemic shut down live theatre, I found myself performing on a virtual stage, playing the role of Duchess Fredricka in the Shared Radiance Zoom production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Though I missed the face-to-face experience of live theatre, playing the duchess introduced me to performing on camera with a green screen and learning how to carry on conversations convincingly with actors who were invisible to me.

After the pandemic restrictions relaxed temporarily, I found myself performing live again but in a way that was new to me. Goodly Frame’s Finding Shakespeare required me to play three different characters in a fifteen-minute outdoor production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Rehearsal for Goodly Frame’s Finding Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, (L-R): Theseus (Axel Tolksdorf), Lysander (Tabitha Stillwell Wilkins), Egeus (Jane Lucas), Creative Greensboro’s Todd Fisher, and Hermia (Sally Kinka) / Sam McClenaghan

Now actors find themselves in rehearsals akin to–but not the same as–the ones of our pre-pandemic nights at the theatre. They don literal masks until they step on stage to wear their figurative ones. I look forward to the days when I will not have to pull off a mask before I step into the light, but for now I am simply grateful for the innovative pandemic-era theatre opportunities I’ve had.

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