Taking the Show Online: How We Teach the Performing Arts During COVID-19

Aug 13, 2020 3:00-4:30pm EDT

Watch the Webinar

Watch the Webinar (Spanish dubbed)


This past semester saw a swift transition to remote arts instruction for many teachers. Amidst feelings of isolation and anxiety about the future, teachers and students had to adjust to a new way of learning and teaching. As humans so often do in times of crisis, our communities rose to the challenge. Teachers and students worked together to learn new technology; resources for remote teaching were shared throughout the art community; and genuine efforts were made to maintain a sense of community despite the imposed social distance. As we look towards the fall, and continued remote instruction for many schools, arts instructors still need a space to hear others’ experiences, share, and gather resources on navigating online arts instruction. With this new webinar series, a2ru hopes to provide that space.

This performing arts panel will explore practical approaches to accommodating camera-shy students in acting classes and possible strategies for creating studio-based engagement online. Panelists will discuss creative ways to interact with students via Zoom, online collaborative tools, and how to make-up for lost hands-on lab time. Specifically focusing on how COVID-19 is changing the way theatre is being produced, panelists will also discuss how instructors and students can adapt; how to make use of virtual space; and how we might modify physical space in order to have some in-person campus performances. This panel is designed to be informative and conversational. We encourage attendees to send questions to a2ru Program Coordinator, Charisse Willis, at a2ru-events@umich.edu prior to the event.


Anita Gonzalez (Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, 1997) is a Professor of Theatre and Associate Dean for Faculty Development in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan.

Over twenty years, Gonalez has developed programming and curricula in higher education to promote internationalism in the arts, engaged learning, and interdisciplinary research. Some of her unique interdisciplinary initiatives at U-M include projection mapped performances of The Snarkand The Living Lakes in the Duderstadt Center, developing a performance installation and lecture series titled “Conjuring the Caribbean,” founding Anishinaaabe Theatre Exchange in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to engage Ojibwe communities in dialogue through theatrical performance, and creating a massive open online course “Storytelling for Social Change” with 10,000 learners to date.

Her recent academic publications are in the fields of African diaspora studies, dance studies, and maritime performance, and her creative writings focus on telling women’s stories and histories.

Anita Gonzalez has completed three Senior Scholar Fulbright grants and been awarded a residency at Rockefeller’s Bellagio Center in Italy. She was a Humanities Center Fellow at the University of Michigan during the 2017/18 academic year and she is a recipient of the Shirley Verrett Award for outstanding teaching of performance. Gonzalez is a member of the National Theatre ConferenceLincoln Center Director’s LabLeague of Professional Women in Theatre, and the Regional Representative for The Dramatists Guild. Dr. Gonzalez is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the University of Michigan Press and a co-series editor for the Dance in Dialogue books at Bloomsbury Press.

Learn more about Anita at her website: https://anitagonzalez.com/


An artist and educator, Dr. Felice Amato has a particular passion for puppetry and all forms of object performance. Amato taught K-12 art and Spanish (and art in Spanish) in public schools for 20 years before returning to school to pursue an MFA and subsequent PhD in art from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. For the latter, she focused primarily on women’s use of puppets and dolls in modernism and its connection to her own work. Amato also holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin. She has performed in a variety of venues including the Ballard Institute at U-CONN and Open Eye Figure Theater in Minneapolis. Amato has received numerous awards for her artistic work including a Jerome Foundation Grant from Northern Clay Center and two Minnesota State Arts Board Grants. She has published in Puppetry International and presented at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, Puppeteers of America, and other conferences. She was recently chosen as an emerging artist at the Eugene O’Neill National Puppetry Conference where she  created a piece based on Simone de Beauvoir’s 1949 work The Second Sex. Some of Amato’s interests are women’s and feminist studies, folklore and storytelling, making art education accessible to all, cross-cultural pedagogy, and English language learners in art education.


Raymond Kent is currently adjunct faculty within the Center for Creative Arts’ Theatre Department at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio where he teaches scenic technology and design courses.  He has guest lectured at various colleges and universities on many theatre design topics including scenic, lighting, and projection design in addition to scenic technology.  Raymond has held several leadership positions within the United Institute for Theater Technology and serves as editor for Digital Media Design for Theater Technology and Design magazine and writes frequently for various trade publications on technology, sustainability, and design.  His presentations can be seen nationally and internationally at  many industry conferences including through USITT, ATHE, AVIXA, AIA, and more.  Additionally, Raymond is the founder of the Innovative Technology Design Group within the leading global cultural and performing arts architecture firm DLR Group overseeing a group of specialists in the design and renovation of performing arts centers around the world. Most recently, he authored Pathways to (Re)Opening Night – a guide to reopening performance venues in a post COVID-19 landscape.


Robert Mark Morgan is a Teaching Professor in the area of Scenic Design for the Performing Arts Department, a practicing Theatre, Exhibit, and Industrial Designer, and also the Director of the Beyond Boundaries Program, an interdisciplinary program at WashU. Students get one year to decide on their undergraduate division and collaborate with other students as unique intellectual explorers who desire to collaborate across disciplines and interact with multiple schools and departments. The program re-frames and changes “what do you want to BE when you grow up?” to “what problems do you want to solve?” and equips students to make a difference in a complicated world where challenges do not come pre-packaged as the territory of a single discipline.


Stefanie Sertich is currently a Professor and the Program Director of Theatre at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York, in Queens, NY. Sertich directs new works, musicals and creates devised theatre for social change. She recently collaborated with Stew on his latest musical, “Columbus is Happening”. At LaGuardia, she has directed “Passing Strange” (KCACTF Invited Production and winner of 5 National Distinguished Awards, 2017) “In The Heights”, “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” (KCACTF Invited Production, Region 1) and “The Shape of Things.” She has developed a series of devised works with students, entitled, “Unpacking American Identity” with Steven Hitt (LaGuardia Performing Arts Center’s Artistic Director). The plays discuss social justice issues such as homelessness, Muslim identity, Black Lives Matter and police brutality.

She has a BA in Acting from Western Michigan University and a MFA in Directing from the University of Portland. Stefanie won a PSC CUNY Research Foundation Grant for her documentary, “Immigrant Artists”, and she is a two time Salute to Scholars Nominee, CUNY. She has also won the Innovative Teaching Award from KCACTF and ATHE, and is the University of Portland’s 2017 Contemporary Alumni Winner.