Digital programming and digital interactions, initially thought-about to be stop-gap measures in the course of the first few waves of the pandemic, could now be an necessary a part of supporting many individuals’s well being and well-being — together with the well-being of older adults.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, group musical actions moved on-line, prompting a wave of digital choir experiments and digital orchestra choices.
These and different on-line communities weren’t restricted to college students. A Statistics Canada survey discovered that greater than half of Canadians between the ages of 64 and 74 elevated their participation in on-line actions in the course of the pandemic by connecting with household and pals by means of video conferencing, or accessing leisure on-line.
Digital alternatives within the performing arts are ripe with potential for older adults to foster expertise and creativity, and to enhance well-being.
Going digital serves many functions, a very powerful of which can be social connection.
Since connecting with others stays necessary for older adults, this may be achieved by means of, or along with, digital leisure or leisure alternatives.
Our analysis has revealed that digital music theatre — music theatre on-line — permits for a extra accessible and a much less unique method to interact with this artwork type with many advantages for individuals.
On-line performing arts
The performing arts permit performers and audiences to really feel, be artistic in neighborhood, specific themselves and talk or play by means of track, motion or storytelling.
Advantages related to participation within the arts embody improved temper and well-being and sense of belonging.
Analysis has additionally documented associations between seniors’ participation within the arts and improved mobility and vocal well being.
Earlier than the pandemic erupted, we had began main a program, Rise, Shine, Sing!, that created alternatives for native residents sometimes excluded from the creation of music theatre on account of age, skill and entry. This system was principally attended by older adults, some with Parkinson’s Illness or different continual situations.
We held three weekly face-to-face periods from the tip of February 2020, till mid-March, after which moved this system on-line (through Zoom) for 12 periods from April till June 2020. This system continues to be supplied, with many individuals indicating a choice to proceed just about.
Considerably to our shock, when this system moved on-line, the truth that individuals may solely hear the facilitator and themselves singing was not a deterrent to collaborating. Members loved singing, dancing and creating characters utilizing costumes and props primarily based on cues and suggestions from facilitators.
Paradigm shift for music theatre
Digital music theatre presents a severe paradigm shift for the style. More often than not when folks consider music theatre, they consider reside our bodies transferring in good synchrony to choreographed motion, and voices singing in good concord whereas performers are bodily current collectively.
Researchers have examined how group singing and motion fosters togetherness, neighborhood and social bonding.
Music theatre has made strides to grow to be extra inclusive over the course of the twenty first century. Los-Angeles primarily based Deaf West Theatre, for instance, creates works of music theatre that may be skilled and carried out by members of the Deaf and listening to communities.
A mess of recent works, stagings and casting practices are highlighting and supporting the experiences of marginalized teams, by diversifying and queering the sector, for instance.
Such works supply resistance and new tales to an trade that has historically been ableist, white and ageist.
Canada’s theatre neighborhood should nurture BIPOC management to enhance racial fairness
However regardless of a wholesome neighborhood music theatre scene in North America, most alternatives nonetheless omit many individuals on account of points associated to social nervousness, expertise, mobility, household life and/or funds.
Music theatre meets common design
We drew on the intersection of music theatre efficiency and common design for studying to develop a mannequin the place success may look totally different from individual to individual.
When it comes to the motion, individuals may synchronize with the facilitator and/or different members of the group. They had been equally welcome and inspired to customise or adapt their actions to swimsuit their very own wants and pursuits.
We embraced dancing from each a seated and standing place, to discover totally different ranges and to accommodate totally different mobility capabilities. Members managed how a lot they shared by deciding how seen they needed to be on digital camera.
Classics and newer numbers
We drew on musical classics or requirements from Singin’ within the Rain, the Sound of Music, Joseph and The Superb Technicolour Dreamcoat — in addition to newer numbers from Depraved and different fashionable songs.
We additionally co-created our personal songs by combining our shared reminiscences or inspirations by means of picture, lyrics and actions to discover themes of pleasure and resilience in troublesome occasions.
Whereas this system was led just about, earlier than periods, leaders dropped off or mailed prop bins to all individuals. These had been full of costumes together with small scarves and ribbons that might be used for choreography.
Promise of digital musical theatre
Digital music theatre has proven unbelievable promise, even within the brief time we have now been exploring it. Digital connections reframe being collectively on the identical time and in the identical area. This provides new sudden dimensions to creating music in a bunch.
First, targets and expectations of uniformity are changed with targets of particular person empowerment and artistic exploration.
Music helps us keep in mind who we’re and the way we belong throughout troublesome and traumatic occasions
Second, individuals stay dedicated to the neighborhood and group endeavour, however are additionally free to tailor and adapt the methods they interact with the fabric and with each other. If group members invite pals or household in different cities to take part just about, as some in our group did, the digital neighborhood additionally expands in significant methods.
Lastly, individuals may also alter their private consolation by sharing as a lot or little of themselves with the group with out feeling like they’re letting the group down.
Our hybrid future
The pandemic catalyzed the necessity for digital interplay. Whereas we all know that Zoom fatigue is pervasive, digital alternatives for music theatre participation and creation supply a brand new paradigm of inventive expertise.
These alternatives additionally supply hanging promise for bringing performers a few of the identical advantages as in-person music theatre experiences.
In some instances, in addition they facilitate new entry to music in neighborhood, and permit individuals to interact with the artwork type and each other in ways in which help private company and independence, whereas additionally sustaining social connection and interactivity. Who may ask for something extra?
Julia Brook receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Analysis Council of Canada and the Canadian Basis for Innovation.
Colleen Renihan receives funding from The Sciences and Humanities Analysis Council of Canada and the Canadian Basis for Innovation.
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