Paradise Valley Community College made history this month, conducting in its theatre department the first stage combat skills proficiency test via Zoom!
Theatre Director Andrea Robertson organized the stage combat event with the Society of American Fight Directors, taking numerous precautions in light of the global pandemic. Fight Master Brian Byrnes, located in Iowa, “Zoomed in,” instructing and testing the students on stage. He then held a personal workshop for each pair of students.
“These are crazy times, and we are having to get creative and discover new ways to get things done,” said Robertson. “Students were eager to participate and return to school to finish their Spring certification.”
Robertson said the group was diligent about following social distancing protocols, staying six feet apart and wearing masks. “We were also grateful to PVCC’s maintenance team who cleaned and thoroughly sanitized everything, and our technical director who set everything up for us.”
“It was really cool to be a part of the first group in the nation to do a stage combat skills proficiency test via Zoom,” said Rimyal Awfe, theatre student. “I wasn’t worried at all coming back to campus; I actually missed it.” Awfe said wearing a mask impeded the process a little bit because it was hard to hear others talking, as well as projecting her own voice, but noted, “I’m glad I was able to become certified and I hope other schools in the nation follow in our footsteps and know that life doesn’t need to stop because of the pandemic.”
Student Isaac Murray agreed, saying, “Coming back to school after what felt like an eternity was incredible. Being the first to try out what might be the new normal for the foreseeable future was an interesting experience to say the least. The best moment was definitely taking a fight proficiency test through a screen. I’ve never felt more like a ninja - wielding two weapons and wearing a mask! “
Robertson said the plan was originally to continue their work through the end of the month, but even with extreme safety measures in place, the theatre department is pressing pause once again. COVID-19 cases are soaring in Phoenix and its surrounding suburbs, so the group is keeping its fingers crossed it can complete the second portion of the test through Zoom at a future date.