Coronavirus News: Drama students learn how to act virtually amid COVID-19 pandemic

MANHATTAN (WABC) -- Acting students are continuing to learn their craft virtually even while they are quarantined.

Think about it, how do actors perform while still maintaining a social distance? What about love scenes, and how can they act without an audience?

Alex Elam is a first-year student in the Graduate Acting Program at New York University, and she never expected to be taking direction by way of video conferencing.

"Snarl without moving," Associate Arts Professor James Calder advised her via Zoom.

Elam replied with an "OK" from her home in the Hamilton Heights section of Manhattan.

Elsewhere, her scene partner stood ready to react.

"I think the biggest challenge is pushing through this digital apparatus to connect with your scene partner," Elam said. "This whole experience has shown how much we take for granted being in real space and time with another person."

After all, acting is about interacting with others.

"It's a little strange," Professor Calder admits. "It's basically just more difficult to actually have the person-to-person experience."

He never thought he'd ever be doing this in his career.

Typically, Calder teaches right alongside his students, but right now, "Sometimes they're in New Zealand."

"You know theater is such a public event, and you're there adapting to an actual live audience, and so in this instance you have to make it up," Calder said. "You have to imagine a whole lot more."

It may not be so bad after all as video conferencing could be a way to spark creativity.

"I think when something unprecedented like this happens, you really are forced to look at yourself, and ask yourself who you really are," Elam said. "I think what I've learned about myself is that I really do love what I do."


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