During the COVID-19 Pandemic, many in the Berea College community submitted their unique perspectives on the situation to President Roelofs to share with campus. The following is the next in a series appearing here at Berea Beloved.
The Ghost Light
By Dr. Deborah G. Martin, Professor and Chair of Theatre
It is the isolation that hurts the worst. Sure, we have our students reading plays, watching videos, giving them modified assignments. However, true Theatre means simultaneous space and time and teamwork, and teamwork means togetherness. In Theatre we learn by DOING together. In our Acting classes we tell our students that we expect them to fail the first assignment because on the second they will fail better and on the third even better. Audiences do not come see actors thinking onstage; they come to see them DO onstage. Confidence is built through trust and exploration with other students in the room. We need to hear the breath and see preparation in the body. Rehearsals are pedagogically electric; we teach our students to apply what they learn in the classroom to their production work. Together, we learn the lines, build the sets, sew the costumes, hang and focus the lights. When a theater “goes dark” or closes, we leave on what we call the “ghost light.” We are keeping the ghost light on – even now. Hopefully it’s a beacon that leads our students back to our theatrical home. We yearn to open our doors again; to take reservations again; to rehearse again; to hear the applause again. We yearn for the belly laughs we would have at our department meetings. The pandemic has taken the one teaching tool we never knew we needed – togetherness.