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Performing Arts Goes Virtual

Posted: 9th December 2020 | Category: Drama, Years 5 to 8

Performing Arts Goes Virtual

This has been the end of a Christmas term like no other, as with everything this year! I am so pleased that we have been able to find ways to continue to facilitate music and drama here at Skippers within the restrictions and also continue to provide performance opportunities for the children.

This has come with considerable challenges and I will be completely honest when I say I can’t wait to go back to live performances sometime in the (hopefully) not too distant future as, for me, there is nothing that beats the magic that children can produce when performing live on stage in comparison to the slightly unusual and more formal set up of a performing to a video camera.

That being said the children have risen brilliantly to the challenges I have given them this term. 

The most ambitious of all the performing projects we have done has to be the Year 5/6 production of Peter Pan. Rather than just performing and filming it on the stage I decided to turn it in to an actual film. This involved filming in different locations around the school as well as using a green screen for the first time to create certain backdrops for the children to act in front of and therefore turn it more into a film rather than a play.

This meant the children had to get used to the idea of filming scenes a couple of times from different angles as well as not always doing scenes in the right order which was quite confusing. We filmed all the staging for the songs and then have recorded the children singing separately to match up with the footage. All new experiences that the children had to get used to very quickly and my goodness what a tremendous job they did. The edit for Peter Pan has taken a long time to put together but I hope you and the children will enjoy the finished product. 

The Year 7 & 8 Performing Arts Evening went ahead virtually this term which involved filming all the solo performances and again editing it all together. I have continued to rehearse Senior Choir and Orchestra this term but within their bubble groups which has been a strange experience for the children. For the Performing Arts Evening I had to film the children singing and playing in their bubbles and then link the tracks together so they were still performing virtually as one choir or Orchestra - not an easy task, particularly with the many moving parts of an orchestra, but I’m so glad I persevered and was able to show the children that they actually were still working as a whole team even in their bubbles. 

The Christmas concert which I have been putting together this week has been the craziest of the lot. When we went into the second lockdown it became clear we would not be able to put on our traditional carol service at the church this year, so I changed tack and decided instead that the children would all perform in their bubbles something fun and christmassy to go into what I was calling our Christmas Concert Extravaganza. The majority of this would be singing fun Christmas songs but I also put in a poem, a dance and a short panto. I wanted this to be completely different from what we would usually do because these are not normal times and above anything else I wanted the children to have some fun. It’s been quite a week putting it all together and filming the children in different locations with not much rehearsal time, but once again the children have risen to the challenge. We have also been able to join the Senior Choir and Orchestra together for the first time since March as we socially distanced them together outside and it was so lovely to have all their singing voices and instruments making music together again. 

Above anything else this strange time has taught me skills I never thought I would need and has also developed skills in the children that they had probably never even thought about. I have learnt that filming takes much longer than what you plan for and how much I miss the joy of live performance when unexpected things happen in the moment and the energy and excitement from the children knowing this is their big moment to perform and do the best job they can, but it has also been a fascinating and creative process and the children have without a doubt risen to every challenge with such enthusiasm and that has been wonderful to see.

I hope you enjoy the Christmas Concert Extravaganza and look forward to the day when we can meet again at a live performance showcasing the great talents of the children here at Skippers Hill. 

Click here to watch Peter Pan

Jennifer Farman

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