BYMS Theater Arts Adapts During COVID-19

BYMS theater has its challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic

Drama+classroom+set+up+in+progress+for+the+2020-2021+Hybrid+Schedule

Photo Courtesy of Amy De Friese

Drama classroom set up in progress for the 2020-2021 Hybrid Schedule

“The hybrid model is a lose-lose situation,” Drama teacher Amy De Friese claims during an interview with the Matador Messenger. On October 26th, 2020, students at BYMS returned to “hybrid learning.” This brought along many challenges to interactive classes such as theatre.

“I am forced to remove all flexible seating, maintain a larger number of desks covered in plexiglass to a student ratio, and take down bulletin boards to list a few,” De Friese claims. Many safety precautions have been set in place to keep students and staff safe. This brings several difficulties and changes to drama. Last year students were able to work on stage in the MPR, perform plays, and play interactive improvisation games. This year, due to changes to accommodate safety guidelines, students are not allowed on stage, productions are postponed until further notice, and students can only play interactive games over Zoom.

“My peers and I acknowledge that there’s a pandemic going on so we can’t do the things that we could normally do, but Ms. De Friese still has fun, digital, drama activities, so we learn to be a better actor while still distanced. We still enjoy drama even after the changes due to COVID-19,” 8th grade drama student Travis Joy says.

“Teachers are forced to babysit; babysitting students, babysitting attendance logs, babysitting Zoom meetings, ect.,” De Friese states. In the hybrid schedule, teachers are forced to teach an in-person class and a Zoom class at the same time. “How students choose to learn on Zoom is ultimately up to them.” De Friese describes some challenges and sacrifices teachers face during this new schedule, mentioning the obscene hours of work, the risk of their own lives and their loved one’s, and all the alterations they have had to make to their classes. 

She says, “The level of disrespect is disheartening, especially when teachers continue to make sacrifices for our students and our community. Teachers show up with a smile beneath a mask and a face shield to create engaging lessons.”

Despite the struggles and restrictions to the class, new students are still having a good time in class. Seventh-grader and first time drama student Avery Kozicki says, “I am really enjoying the Theater program here at BYMS. Ms. De Friese makes it fun and lively! Although we aren’t doing any plays or performances, she still finds a way to involve all students in the activities to help us develop more skills through Zoom.”

“Last year in theater was definitely different from this year, but we have all adjusted to this hybrid schedule and are having a ton of fun and learning a lot along the way! I’m so grateful that we make it work on Zoom, though it may be harder, but we are all working together and having a blast,” drama student Leilah Huttner says.