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Xinmin Evening News: Going online for zero distance teaching, Shanghai Theatre Academy draws blueprint for theatre, film and television education in future

Xinmin Evening News, 31 May 2020, Reporter: Zhao Yue

The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic poses a great challenge to the global higher art education in theatre, film and television, and also allows the theatre professionals and practitioners to think about how to use the internet technologies to further develop the theatre teaching with the main characteristics of live interaction and face-to-face communication. Last night, the Shanghai University League’s Forum for International Young Scholars – Forum on Theatre, Film and TV” opened at the Shanghai Theatre Academy (STA), and more than 100 scholars from all over the world participated in the theme exchange online. This forum was hosted by the Shanghai Education Talents Exchange Service Center and the Shanghai University League, and was hosted by the Shanghai University.

Adapt to new situation

For professional drama schools for which 90% of the daily courses are practical training, online teaching has never been thought of by many teachers before. Starting from 2 March this year, STA began the new semester with the way of online distance teaching, and nearly 1000 courses were transferred online. In order to ensure the smooth operation of online teaching, STA also specially organized students to undertake stress tests, and teachers also made every effort to develop innovative teaching methods.

He Yan, dean of STA’s Department of Acting, sighed that there had been many frustrations and also many joys associated with the online teaching.

Lu Ang, dean of STA’s Department of Directing, also introduced that in order to balance the courses for the entire academic year, this semester will focus on the theoretical courses, while the next semester will have increased practice and rehearsal. With many world famous theatrical companies and troupes making resources available online, the students’ data search and reading volumes have greatly increased, and the teachers’ preparation of lessons has become more detailed. We are opening a new page of theatre education, while looking forward to the resumption of offline courses as soon as possible.

For Katherine Fitzmaurice, a world-class voice training expert, online teaching has been an adventure. Students seem to be in front of me, but not in front of me. Sometimes they turn off the camera, and sometimes they even make faces to the camera as if a mirror. Andrei Malaev-Babel, Andre Malawi Babel, head of acting at the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training, said that at first many people thought it impossible to teach acting on video conferencing software, but he moved the school's acting courses online in mid March, and in May he also provided online intensive courses for Russian and British actors, and now everyone has run in very well.

Create new platform

On the theme of this forum - the future-oriented theatre, film and television education, Huang Changyong, President of STA, pointed out that although there are different ideas and models of theatre education in different countries, there should be a commonly advocated direction of education, that is, to be future-oriented and cultivate a new generation of art talents with the spirit of artistic innovation and sense of responsibility.

The far-reaching influence on the art industry brought by the whole industry moving online has not yet appeared, but the change has come. STA has been decided to set part of the courses as permanent online courses, and there are also technical solutions even for the face-to-face performance training that once could not be. Huang Changyong said that in the second half of this year, STA will first establish smart classrooms in the Huashan Road Campus, which will gradually extend to cover three other campuses. We can invite artists in New York and London to enter the smart classrooms, so students can experience face-to-face teaching experience in Shanghai, and new technologies have provided unlimited possibilities for our education in the future.