College of Visual and Performing Arts
George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Adapting to Technology By Amelia McGinnis (Gaining Ground Stage Manager)

October 29, 2020

When the School of Theater announced that we would transition entirely online for the fall semester, many wondered how we would adapt to new technology. We needed to approach everything with an open mind and have flexibility. For Gaining Ground, I was looking forward to exploring how we could produce a musical in an online setting. We have been very reliant on zoom, where all production meetings and rehearsals have taken place. We had a relatively short rehearsal process in comparison to previous productions.

We rehearsed and filmed the production in about three weeks. Our Music Director, Joe Walsh had created different rehearsal tracks for the cast: single-note, accompaniment, and the full track with the band. When the cast would work on music, they would have a separate device to play the tracks. We would have one person with their microphone on and everyone else would be on mute. The cast would take turns, so Joe would be able to hear everyone sing. Once the cast had a foundation of the music, we started blocking rehearsals with our directors, Erin and James Gardiner. We would stage the movements within the zoom squares, knowing that more would take place in editing. During our final week, the cast would record their songs. We set up a schedule of when the performers should record each song. The cast would all log in to zoom at the beginning of our recording block to check in about lighting and to ask any last minute questions. Everyone would log off to go record and I was available to answer any questions and relay any important information to the rest of the team. Once all the recordings were finished, I sent the footage to our editing team. For several weeks there were many meetings and emails back and forth determining what needed to be fixed or changed in the numbers. After many discussions, we now have a final product.

The process of putting on an online production is both easier and harder in different ways. There is less to worry about--we don’t have a full production team, we are not learning choreography, and I do not have as much to notate or to communicate to other departments. However, it’s also easier for things to slip by. It is more difficult to give a simple note, or to do a quick check in, and we are constantly battling technology.

I am very proud of this production and everything we have accomplished. This process is not the same as live theatre. However, we are able to take comfort in knowing theatre will be back in its intended format, and all of us will be that much more excited for when that day finally comes.

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