From stage to screen: Student musical at Devereux’s Glenholme School transitions into video production
As the saying goes, “The show must go on.” This adage rings especially true for students and staff at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Connecticut – The Glenholme School.
Each year, Glenholme School students perform a musical in front of family members, friends and community supporters. This year, due to COVID-19, the school’s theatrical production of “High School Musical Jr.” transitioned into a video production to ensure the health and safety of all involved.
“We thought about making a stage version of the musical that could be recorded, but, ultimately, we decided a video production would be our best and safest option, allowing us to maintain social distancing,” said Glenholme School Arts Director Matthew DeLong. “We shot the video over several months. While there were a few logistical challenges with taking our costumes, props and camera equipment to various locations around campus, there were many positives. For example, our students did not have to memorize lines for the entire script – they only had to learn, or be familiar with, a few lines for that day’s shoot. We shot each scene multiple times, so we could capture multiple camera angles, and we saw our students really getting into character and becoming more sure of their lines – they had a lot of fun.”
Building skills through performance
By participating in performing arts, DeLong says students build executive functioning skills, such as attention, planning and perseverance.
“Our students know a production takes weeks to come together, and every day they need to put forth different levels of energy and focus,” DeLong explained. “We help them plan for the process by creating calendars and setting deadlines to complete tasks, including memorizing lines, learning songs and dances, and determining what they want to include in their actor biographies. In addition, our kids improve their social skills by interacting with peers they may not know, and they increase their coordination and flexibility through dance and repetition of movement.”
Planning for the next production
DeLong says he and his team also acquired new skills (related to technology) throughout the shooting and editing process. He says he is happy with how the video turned out, and so are the students.
“They loved it,” DeLong shared. “I have worked with a lot of these kids before. While they did not say whether they would prefer to make a movie over appearing on stage – they had a wonderful time. Plus, now they have something they can pull up on their phones or computers and share with their families.”
Up next: DeLong is already planning for The Glenholme School’s fall production.
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