Across the world, students have been physically separated from their teachers and classmates and are learning remotely. It's nobody's ideal scenario, though for subjects such as maths and English it is, at least, relatively easy to see how that works for both teachers and learners. But drama? An inherently collaborative subject which relies upon physical, on the feet, in the space working, on human connection, and touch?
I participated in a Zoom discussion with education technology expert Paul Cuatracasas last week: his subject was ‘COVID-19 – a catalyst for change? How the technology sector can improve resilience and drive innovation in the education sector’ and it was fascinating to hear his predictions about the speed with which we would be taking such things as hologram and haptic technology in our stride. The latter refers to ‘touch suits’, by which another person, a teacher or fellow student can not only be projected into your home but you will also be able to feel them touch your arm… It's the stuff of science fiction, but Cuatracasas was adamant that this technology is within perhaps 5 years of being commonplace. It is clear to see how this, and slightly more immediately available tech such as virtual and augmented reality could help in the study of drama in remote settings.
However, for the moment we're a little more limited in our scope – so in this issue of Drama & Theatre we look at remote teaching (page 12) and auditions (page 27); at online sources for streamed theatre (page 14); at a project designed to keep students participating in youth theatre from isolation (page 15); at play texts which encourage students to explore the parallels between our current situation and other contexts in which ideas about illness and recovery come to the fore (page 36); and finally, at web-resources to support your teaching at this time (page 38).
Meanwhile, we know that this strange new way of living, working, teaching and learning won't go on forever. So there are also features about in-school projects, and live performance – things which will return in force when we all emerge blinking into the light, however far in the future that may be.
We are working hard in the background to get our brand new website online: follow our social media for announcements when it is launched, very soon – it will be packed with useful content to help you in this time. We're also forging ahead with programming for the Music & Drama Education Expo | Manchester 2020 – which will take place in the Autumn and get us all back together again.
With very best wishes to you, your families and your students in this unusual and difficult time.