Virtual Theatre School: The Future is Now

2020 was the year that many schools were thrust into the depths of online learning. For the first time ever, virtual theatre school had to be seriously considered. Some programs didn’t pivot; a predominantly live/tactile industry certainly has more than a few issues when pivoting online. Some schools deemed this move too impossible. Other schools, however, chose to take this by the reins as an opportunity.

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Throughout history, performing arts training has heavily relied on interaction and hands-on corrections. Though this tradition has been developed with reason, it does not mean it is the only way to hone your craft. As a distanced student, your job will be to approach any new challenges with positivity and take advantage of the additional opportunities this model provides.

Whether it’s perfect or not, online training still provides many opportunities for a student to grow as an artist. Is this not one of the fundamental aims of any training program? While I still don’t exactly want to say online learning should become the golden standard for all theatrical training, I do hope it can become a viable alternative for some. It’s true that not everyone has a great home set-up for at-home training, but others are limited by their location and don’t have the means to travel. Adding digital training alternatives can bring world-class training to all corners of the world. Virtual theatre school is simply another form of accessibility and affordability that could bring equal training opportunities to more students.

How is virtual training still worthwhile when the ultimate goal is live performance?

A strong education involves more than a teacher passing along static information to a student. This fact is even more apparent in a discipline that depends on a student’s physical facility, personal experiences, and personality. A student needs to adapt any given information for their own skillset, and for the industry that greets them.

An instructor cannot transmit/express those adaptations; their knowledge is limited to their experience. No matter how thoroughly they have studied their craft and the industry, it is a simple fact that their expertise can’t include completely understanding their students’ situations. It is the student’s job to take the information given, and mould it into something useful for their future.

When viewing education in this way, clearly there can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution at the best of times. Yes, the student’s precise final takeaways will be affected by the learning method’s side effects. This is the same difference that can be seen when comparing conservatory vs. academic-based training, as well as part-time vs. full-time programs. A teacher’s wisdom is their most valuable offering, whether it’s expressed in person or virtually. The concrete lessons don’t disappear just because there’s now a screen involved.

In order to get the most out of any training program, the student needs to be ready to absorb the material in whatever way it’s presented.

Why are people so scared of online theatre training?

A lot of the hesitancy around at-home learning for performance disciplines is because it’s a relatively new platform. Who knows – it may even become a new art form! Many instructors don’t intuitively know how to teach this way because it’s not how they trained. It may also go beyond what they think are the limits of their discipline. When the presentation method is fundamentally challenging for the instructor, of course they won’t fully support it.

A challenge doesn’t mean it’s not worth it, though. Change can be scary, but progression can’t happen without it! The internet is here and a fixture in so many people’s lives. There is no better time for everyone to discover its potential.

Is virtual theatre school worth it?

Regardless of whether you go to school online or in person, to succeed in this industry, you will need to be highly in tune with upcoming trends, and be proficient in any new technologies. The internet is undoubtedly a rising aspect of the world in general. What better way for you to master it within the context of your art than to be fully enveloped in it while training? Incorporating more technological mediums into the learning process may just be the first step towards modernizing an ancient art form.

Perhaps a generation of tech-savvy, actively motivated artists is just what the world needs.

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