Acting on Zoom is really difficult but not for obvious reasons. With this being our second semester online, we are acclimating to this style of learning every single day. It doesn’t get easier because it’s not normal. There is no way that performing a show, working on acting exercises in class or doing scenes while online will ever feel normal. One of the reasons in-person training is necessary is because although we are actors, we are students first. Face-to-face interaction is critical for the actor because acting is very physical and about human connection.
It has been interesting to see how the Ithaca College Department of Theatre Arts is now being pushed into the world where theater meets film. Broadway remains closed, and many stage actors are propelled to get in front of the camera. This doesn’t make the work any less challenging. This semester, in particular, the department is collaborating with the Roy H. Park School of Communications for performances that will take a more cinematic approach. This is a huge opportunity for both Park School students and Dillingham Center students, including actors and those in design and production. It’s a unique opportunity that keeps us up to date with industry standards.
The beauty of acting is how tactile it is, and unfortunately, we lose that online. However, I think because we lack that experience of physicality with one another, it heightens our awareness of intimacy and forces us to focus on how we are connecting through the screen. When engaging with another human through means of a screen, there is more work that has to be done to assure your scene partner, for example, that you are present. It’s humbling as an actor and human because I think, personally, I took for granted those moments of getting a chance to re-create moments from other people’s lives and share them with others looking in.
There is also the aspect of vulnerability in the work we do. Many don’t know this, but when we are in class, at least for us here at Dillingham, we tap into parts of ourselves that we normally wouldn’t have to in other classes or even in life. As actors, it’s our job to be emotionally aware of who we are so that we can effectively turn a character into a human being one can resonate with. When we are vulnerable and open like the way we are, a simple hug from peers or professors can make a difference in our classes. Especially with how emotionally draining this work is, that hug, a symbol of tactile human connection, is very appreciated. All humans need human interaction. We are created to have relationships with one another. Acting is simply re-creating those moments for others to see in action. Despite the circumstances of our world, those moments are still being created, only now to fit the mold of what human connection looks like presently.