In Theatre teacher Megan Bellwoar Hollinger‘s Acting Ensemble class, they warm up before each of their class sessions. They do this for the purpose of connecting as an ensemble and simply to move their bodies, open up our voices, and shake off the outside world. Typically, the class meets in a room at AFS called the “Black Box” (see photo)—a room beside to the Muller Lobby that is a flexible, simple, square performance space with black walls. In that room, this class has performed dozens of games and movement rituals together.
Megan didn’t want to lose the spirit and energy of her class due to the closure of AFS for Covid-19 and the virtual experience of AFS Everywhere. She said, “We adapted and improvised—it’s kind of what we do. I’ve been inspired by what other artists were doing to create connection through shared choreography and the video platform.” So, she gave her students an assignment to record themselves doing eleven specific actions or tasks and to improvise the rest. Megan asked for: a simple four-step choreography that they learned together using their hands called the “thumb dance”; them to lip sync “Ob la di, ob la da, life goes on, bruh” with peace-out fingers; them to do funny walks and to sink and pop up in and out of the frame. Once complete, the students then shared the videos with Megan and she spent hours editing it all together.
Megan said of the assignment, “I hope that it’s giving them a sense of who they are as a collective, and the knowledge that they had to do their individual part in order to make it happen. And we hope it throws a little joy into the community.” The Upper school students in Acting Ensemble are listed at the end of the video.