Second-year students in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, had been due to work with actor and director Mella Faye, playing the part of the chorus in her reinvention of the Greek tragedy Oedipus. The intensive artist-in-residency was due to take place at the Lakeside Theatre this summer.
Instead Dr Liam Jarvis, who teaches the Models of Practice theatre studies module, tore up the script and created a virtual residency which offers exciting opportunities for creative approaches to learning in the time of coronavirus.
“Summer term ‘intensive weeks’ are vital to our offer because they are about creatively innovating under time pressure, collaborating with exciting guest artists in industry conditions and most importantly fostering a strong sense of community between students, teachers and invited theatre practitioners,” explained Dr Jarvis.
“At first, the challenges seemed insurmountable. But one hurdle at a time we found creative solutions.”
Instead of watching Mella Faye’s previous production, Medea Electronica, in a theatre, the students, some as far away as Singapore, were sent virtual reality headsets so they could be inspired by her work together whilst physically being thousands of miles apart.
The students were asked to research a Greek Myth and develop a one-minute pitch for their reinvention of the story in preparation.
Led by Mella, they took part in online vocational storytelling workshops and assessed independent creative activities.
With the support of Barbara Peirson and Chris Williams from the Lakeside Theatre, the students were able to write and rehearse from their homes and use breakout rooms for group discussion.