Restrictions under COVID-19 are not stopping USC students from participating in the school’s annual performing arts showcase. This year’s event will serve as a fundraiser, and all proceeds will go to the university’s relief fund for affected students and workers.
Students are coming together virtually to carry on with personal performances such as songs, dances and monologues. The virtual performance will take place on Thursday, May 14th from 6-8 PM.
Everyone, regardless of their major, is encouraged to sign up and submit a piece of their art for the virtual show.
William Higbie, a freshman cinema and media studies major, is submitting a music video he and his friends worked on for the showcase.
“Honestly, I haven’t really been able to see the artistic talent outside of the film school and so I think the showcase is a great time to let the people who have other skills shine,” said Higbie.
Many students were unable to share their creative projects in person after all on-campus events were cancelled. A lot of actors, dancers, and other performers are having a difficult time finding a creative outlet since a lot of what they do revolve around creating for an audience.
“I think this showcase is an excellent idea to get performers motivated and provide a creative outlet,” said Jack Walz, a sophomore visual and performing arts studies major performing a song in the showcase. “During the last few weeks of online class, I’ve found it really hard to adequately perform in my acting class on zoom, but it’s an outlet nonetheless.”
Walz erformed in a musical called “Happy Puppet Hour 2”, which took place the first weekend of March, shortly before USC moved online for the semester. This showcase serves as an opportunity for participants to still be able to perform in a semester where performance would be nearly impossible otherwise.
“I’m so grateful that I got to perform in this before the chaos, but I feel for so many of my friends that put in countless hours of rehearsal for shows that got cancelled,” said Walz.
Walz believes that COVID-19 will change the nature of performing arts for the next year or so, but will make a comeback in the future.
“I think it will go back to normal after some time,” said Walz. “Maybe I’m naive in thinking that, but I can’t think of a reason that it couldn’t go back to how it was.”
Maya Frank, a freshman theater major with an acting emphasis, put together her love for doing good and theater to create the online performance showcase after finding out the original in-person showcase was canceled due to COVID-19.
“I think that just because we’re at home doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be creating art and we shouldn’t be showcasing what we have to offer,” Frank said. “Artists have to adapt and I think this is a new way to be able to share our creativity and also raise money for USC students and workers during the time of COVID.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the performing arts through the very nature of what performance art is. Working on sets with different jobs and duties, required rehearsals, and performing for audiences cannot be achieved due to current social distancing guidelines. Thus, performing artists have had to be creative in terms of connecting with their audience, as well as creating their passion, Franks said.
“Whatever you’re going to do, you’re going to tape it and send it to us, and then we’re going to edit together basically a very long reel and it’s going to be broadcast live,” Frank said about doing the showcase remotely instead of live. This allows the showcase to be done on YouTube where there can be an active fundraiser going on simultaneously.
Yahm Steinberg, a sophomore theater major who helped on the board for putting together the showcase, is hoping things will go back to normal after the pandemic, but understands there will be new norms for future university productions.
“In the end, if people can’t gather, I think that’s going to be very difficult for the arts community because with live performance it’s not realistic to have people sit every six seats away,” said Steinberg. “It’s already hard enough to make money filling audiences in theaters and auditoriums.”
Before, the showcase was only open to seniors in the School of Cinematic Arts and the School of Dramatic Arts. This is the first time the university showcase will be allowing students from all majors to submit their art to be showcased to family, friends and potentially agents and producers.
“It doesn’t matter what your major is, if you have passion for the arts, be a part of it. Be able to make someone smile by doing a funny monologue or a poetry reading. I think during a time like this, we need that more than ever,” said Frank.