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University of the Arts : Playing at a distance: How Corona has changed acting lessons
Berlin - "Keeping a distance of three meters in dialogue situations, yelling or singing requires six meters, 1.5 meters if you just walk by." In front of the theater hall of the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) Maximilian tells of a friend's directing project, strict hygiene - is subject to regulations. What sounds absurd is currently a reality in the city's theater business - the training is particularly suffering as a result.
Maximilian belongs to the third year of acting at the UdK and is now in the second Corona semester. A disaster for him. It felt very different for him at the beginning: "The deceleration was good for me, I was ripe for a break and needed time to reflect," he says with a view to the first lockdown in April. He had two years of studies behind him, an intensive time for acting students, during which they lay the foundation for their training: honing their own roles in scenic play, in groups or in partner work, dancing and speaking training ensure a tight program. The first few years were “a great gift”, but they also drained your strength, he says in retrospect.
April and May passed. Knowing how an acting degree should actually work, the 23-year-old quickly began to struggle with the new form of teaching after a short break. This is followed by a phase that Maximilian calls his "digital overload": "A zoom meeting creates boundaries that you tried to open up for two years." Use the space, present yourself and sell: "Everything that you touch Having acquired skills for the stage, one can forget in front of the computer screen. "
Eva and Sofia only know the basic studies in normal business from stories. In March of this year, the two prevailed among almost 1000 competitors in the legendary audition and were accepted into the first year of acting. For Eva it was the hoped-for liberation after a long dry spell: "One year audition at various universities, and then it finally works, also at the UdK, with great people." Success. "I was suddenly afraid that the first year would be canceled," says Eva, who at the same time also had to consider whether she should move to Berlin at all.
But like the other universities in the city, the UdK also started the online semester. During the first acting lesson, champagne glasses were bumped against the screen, Eva recalls. Fellow student Sofia's joy about her long-awaited degree in acting was quickly clouded: "Since we are not literary scholars, it was clear to us that we could only use the online lessons to a limited extent." At some point she was annoyed by hanging out in her own four walls: “Squat for two hours in front of the screen, then a three-hour break before the next hour.” Instead of the intensive play of scenes from stories, the program now included a lot of text work, posture exercises and facial expressions in video conferences.
Analogue forms of representation such as two-person or pure monologue pieces, which were forced in a later phase of the course and are still regulated by strict rules of distance, cannot be a real alternative for Sofia, but rather only complementary. Acting itself is connected with interaction: “There is a risk that one monologues past one another and that no play arises,” fears Sofia. Eva agrees with her fellow student: "The contact with each other is simply missing."
The two of them say that there was widespread discussion among the acting students as to whether a creative semester promised a solution. The so-called zero semester is currently being tried out at the Kunsthochschule Leipzig and is worth considering for many in their acting environment. The university management of the UdK has decided to let the university run.
Maximilian therefore does not leave a good hair at his university. Of course, there is now room for creative solutions, but there is not enough of the university for him. “They tried to translate the canon digitally and just carry on.” The curriculum was “breakfasted off” in order to guarantee the teaching, which does not serve the students. “In any case, my creative process is not stimulated. At the moment I don't know what I want to tell on stage. "
But the three don't want to let their current situation get them down. “It doesn't make sense to only see the bad,” says Sofia. Maximilian even sees potential in the crisis, "get out of the bubble, see what else there is." His bad mood when it comes to online lessons is something he puts in his place: "Being stubborn doesn't do anything, we have to look ahead . "
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