NSU theatre professor gets creative with online directing classes

Empty JFAC theater

ABERDEEN, S.D. – With the recent events concerning COVID-19 and social distancing, professors all over the nation have been teaching their previously in-person classes exclusively online. With this sudden migration, however, some classes have proven more challenging to adapt to an online format than others. In particular, many professors who teach courses based in the arts have had to get especially creative.

At Northern State University, theatre professor Dr. Kane Anderson has had to make many special accommodations for all of his classes, but specifically for his THEA 351 Directing class. This class focuses on the students directing each other in live theatre. With the implementation of online classes, it is impossible for his students to perform together. 

“When I first heard that classes were being moved online officially, I was not surprised, but I was a little disappointed,” said Anderson. “I teach live performance and I am naturally an extrovert, so not seeing my students is really hard for me. There were multiple readings and workshops that I had planned for this semester that are now much more difficult to make happen.”

In order to still give his students directing experience, however, Anderson has asked those enrolled in his class to present monologues to partners via Zoom video meetings. In these meetings, students present their monologues and their partners give them directorial feedback. Anderson sits in on these calls and teaches his directors how to get what they want from their actors.

“Directing is inherently collaborative,” said Anderson. “Through Zoom meetings, I am able to maintain a level of collaboration. I am in these calls to direct the directors. These monologues don’t have to be memorized and they don’t have to be brand new for the actor. I am paying attention to the feedback that the actor’s partner is able to offer. I am lucky in the sense that the majority of my students in the directing class already consider themselves to be actors, so I am able to use that to my advantage.”

Anderson has also been able to adapt his class by having his students participate in discussion posts and view various videos and articles that discuss topics related to directing. His students are also receiving more projects that teach the business side of directing such as filling out show proposals and creating artist statements.

To learn more about studying the arts at Northern State University, visit NSU School of Fine Arts.

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $55 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions