Drama in a pandemic: how blandness could transform theatre forever


While the world shrank for many Victorians during lockdown, Virtual School Victoria (VSV) and the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) propelled theatre into a new world, providing a glimpse of what theatre could look like during COVID-19 and beyond.

Since 2017, VSV has partnered with MTC to co-deliver an online Year 8 Drama course, which typically culminates in an online and in-person performance. This year, however, is different.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s performance, In and Out of Worlds, was performed entirely online.

Hosted on Webex, the multi-modal production uses a range of online technologies, including Snap Camera, virtual backgrounds, chatboxes and breakout rooms to create a dynamic, visually stunning and provocative performance.

Kelly Jackson, a Theatre Studies teacher at VSV, said the production, was inspired by the pandemic and is at the cutting edge of a potentially seismic shift in Australian theatre.

‘The play is set in 3030; this is 1010 years after humans fled the earth in 2020 to escape “the bland” and discover new planets. In and Out of Worlds transports viewers to a variety of planets with unique cultures, ranging from Greek mythology through to the French café scene.’

At the core of this production and partnership is a radical concept – the democratisation of theatre.

MTC Executive Director Virginia Lovett & Co-CEO said, ‘Our ongoing partnership with Virtual School Victoria is helping us break down socio and geographical barriers for easy, informative and quality access to arts education. We are working together to reach more students across the State through the creation of innovative digital assets, enabling more students access to the magical world of the performing arts.’

Kelly Jackson said that working with MTC provides Theatre Studies students with an unparalleled opportunity to work with some of the country’s most talented artists, be inspired by them and see what life is like as a professional in the theatre industry.

‘Students can become what they see.’

Kelly said that working with MTC has highlighted what is truly possible in an online performance space and online drama course.

‘The artists we are working with are at the forefront of a new age of theatre. They embrace the online space as a live, creative and practically unlimited space that brings people together creatively – both performer and audience.

‘I genuinely feel we are at the precipice of significant change in theatre.’

In and Out of Worlds was performed online on Friday 27 November for an invited audience of family and teachers.

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