As Texas Tech has transitioned to online for the remainder of the Spring semester and the beginning of Summer, it is fascinating to see how other academic institutions are handling this unprecedented event. School of Theatre & Dance Alumna Amy Laney has been hard at work making sure that students of Lubbock ISD experience theatre no matter the obstacle. I recently had the chance to discuss moving to an online environment with theatre and how her relationship with Tech is developing in uncertain times.
I don't want to say that I was granted exclusive rights to interview Amy, but being married to her for these past five years has had a few perks, the most obvious seeing her develop completely new lesson plans and methods of teaching theatre to her students. Daily meetings with administration and other fine arts teachers from the district help to reinforce the idea that just because she is home, this is no time to rest.
Amy became the head theatre director for Atkins Middle School in Lubbock, TX after graduation. Working with Lubbock ISD and Texas Tech, Amy has sent her students to Provincetown, MA for the Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival and created a section of the Theatre in the Community class called Tornado Thespians where Texas Tech students can train young actors and designers. Since Tech and Atkins moved to online courses, the fate of Tornado Thespians has been precarious, to say the least.
"We were preparing this really great showcase," said Laney. "The kids took it hard when they heard the performance was canceled."
Despite the cancellation, Laney found a way for her students to share their talents, through the podcast Hidden Theatre – Radio Plays.
"I love the podcast and thought it would be such a good way to introduce my kids to unique aspects of theatre," said Laney. "There is so much focus on voice and character with a Radio Play that it just lets peoples' imaginations run wild."
Students have been recording a radio play through their Chromebooks, giving them a fun way to work during the pandemic. The podcast is due to be released on Apple podcasts in mid-May.