In my spheres as an artist, educator and parent, I've been hearing more talk about the application of STEAM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. STEAM has been a point of multidisciplinary integration for several years (you can read more about it here). If you've been reading my blog or following any point of my career, you're aware of my interest in collaboration, interdisciplinary work, and community building. As I sat and watched Alvernia University Theatre's production of "Will Power - Shakespeare Done Live!" in late April, it struck me that STEAM was inherently integrated into the performance and production process.
(Side note - "Will Power - Shakespeare Done Live!" was an outdoor, weather permitting, theatre and dance performance. Sponsored by the Fine and Performing Arts Department, it highlighted some of Shakespeare's sonnets and famous scenes. The performances were also live-streamed to limit the in-person audience and to provide access to audience members outside of Alvernia's immediate community.)
Here's "Will Power" in an application of STEAM:
- SCIENCE - "Will Power" was an outdoor performance at the end of April.
- And, Alvernia's community of dancers joined me in continuing my research using Zoom as a choreographic tool. We created a Zoom-dance-for-the-camera that was pre-recorded and live-streamed during the performances. In addition to playing with lighting, sound, bandwidth, and movement, we incorporated text from Shakespeare as translated through American Sign Language.
- ENGINEERING. A performance exists in a space and incorporates created elements.
- "Will Power" needed design that 1) used materials and a design for indoor or outdoor use; 2) applied materials and a design that would last over time (several weeks of rehearsal and repeated performances); 3) incorporated materials and design that would allow for movement of actors and dancers that was sturdy enough to support the actors and scenes but light enough to be quickly moved for dance; and 4) materials and design that could be completed with limited resources (money, time, and labor).
- ART - This might seem obvious when analyzing STEAM through the lens of theatre, but let's
- MATH - How many people can you fit into a space, ensuring that everyone is 6ft apart? To
evaluate and plan for the maximum possible amount of audience members that can safely be in person, based on CDC guidelines, we need math. Prior to starting the process, we need to know how many total cast and crew numbers could be in the theatre based on safety guidelines (for rehearsals and the possibility to move the performance indoors due to weather/ SCIENCE) - this also impacted the ability to cast and rehearse performers. After performances (for Will Power and other performances), math is utilized to evaluate the audience numbers - in person and live-streamed. Audience evaluation also needs to take in account variables based on the SCIENCE (in our case, the weather) and TECHNOLOGY (internet bandwidth, accessibility, etc). Oftentimes, future programming and performances are determined based on the MATH data gathered.
Dr. Thomas providing feedback.