August 5, 2020

Benson Discusses Pandemic and Arts Sector

Assistant Professor of Theatre Michael Benson

Assistant Professor of Theatre Michael Benson

Assistant Professor of Theatre Michael Benson was interviewed for an article in The Well News entitled, “Pandemic Related Challenges Loom Large in the Arts Sector.” 2020 graduate Erick Boscana was also quoted in the story.

 

Erick Boscana, a 2020 graduate of the University of Mary Washington, was still in the midst of scenic design classes when the university informed students facilities were being closed and they had to continue their classes remotely.

“For most of us, adapting to that new reality was impossible,” Boscana said.

“The shutdown placed the [UMW Theatre and Dance] Department in a very precarious position academically because for many of the seniors, their senior project hinged on either a completed performance in ‘Much Ado’ [the spring semester play] or an executed design.” 

Boscana continues, “Fortunately, they were able to organize a Zoom format for an abridged production of ‘Much Ado,’ allowing the actors to showcase the work they had spent the past three months on and the department created a video featuring the work we had already completed.” 

The students at the university weren’t the only ones adapting to uncharted territory.

Michael Benson, an assistant professor in the UMW Theatre and Dance Department, said his initial reaction to having to teach remotely was to ask himself what it was going to take to adjust to the new situation.

“Frankly, most of my energy was funneled to migrating my classes online,” said Benson.

To improve his ability to teach in the remote environment, Benson learned new software and technology, one byproduct being a set of online lectures for his technical production class. 

He goes on to joke that for his scene painting class, he “devised modality of instruction that resembled ‘The Joy of Painting’, sans the cool hair.” 

Benson says as a result of all these adaptations, he “gained a new and healthy respect for instructors who regularly teach online.”  Read more.