Studying performing arts in a pandemic when classes are virtual and live theatre is in lockdown has been somewhat of a challenge for Federation University Arts Academy students.
Despite all the hurdles in their way, the graduating third-year performing arts students have still managed to develop, rehearse and put on an Australian-premiere musical.
Made in Dagenham is based on the true story of the women machinists who stood up to the mighty Ford Motor Company in the UK in 1968 for equal pay.
"We are very grateful we were allowed to even do a production and I still pinch myself that we managed to do a live performance because I have a feeling we are the only institution or company in Victoria at the time who has managed to put on a live show," said assistant director and choreographer Jessica Redmayne.
Most of the character development and rehearsal took place online in various forms during different levels of restrictions. At times all cast and crew were online from their homes, at other times students were together in the theatre but staff, many of them from Melbourne, were online, and there were just six days where the whole company could work together to polish the performance.
Because it was the final year of their course, and the performance forms a large part of their assessment, face to face classes and rehearsals were permitted under strict COVID regulations.
"When it comes to the crux of the story, there is only so much emotion and truth you can get teaching through a screen.
"To get these young humans, who haven't been exposed to a great deal of trauma in their lives, to get them to feel the gravity of the situation and feel the emotional depth the story requires you need to be in the same space as them,"
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She said they had missed out on so much with more than half of their course taking place during the pandemic.
"Our graduating company of 2021 are some of the most skilled young artists the Arts Academy has produced. They have persevered through the challenges of 2020/21, honing their craft throughout the pandemic," said Arts Academy director Associate Professor Richard Chew.
"Their commitment to their studies and each other is inspiring. Much like the formidable women from Dagenham."
The cast recorded a performance of the show in front of a small audience of fellow students and staff. The show will be livestreamed for a public viewing at 7.30pm on Saturday. To register for the livestream click here.
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