Betsy Cornwell and Kris Andrews
Theatre Instructors James Bowie High SchoolAustin Independent School District

How has technology impacted theatre education? (continued...)

"One of the coolest things that I think we’ve done with technology is to connect with our community.”

"Here is a perfect example of really using technology to drive a point home. We were doing a production right after the September 11 attacks, and I was driving around town when Dan Rather came on my radio. I thought, 'Wow! Something else happened! What's going on?' Well, Dan Rather was talking about what happens when you declare war, how all the medicines are sent to seven different locations. And I found it very interesting because I didn't know any of that information. It struck me when I got back to school, and I said to Betsy, 'We've just declared war as a nation! How can we produce a play?'
'How can we do that? How can we open a show and not even address what's happening in the world?' And we thought and thought about it, and after talking to our kids, we decided to put together a PowerPoint presentation for the audience to view before the show. It was very simple. It just said, 'Welcome to James Bowie High School's Romeo and Juliet.' We used an excerpt from a story about coal miners and a canary. Coal miners used to take a canary down into the mines with them. If the canary quit singing, the coal miners knew that they had to evacuate because the mine had become unsafe. On one slide we simply put, 'Let us be that canary for you. Because in this dark time of not knowing, we want to be that canary. Let us sing. Enjoy our song.'"

"It was amazing. Our audiences applauded, and many parents came up to us and thanked us just for acknowledging what had happened and making it real to their kids. We were affected by what was happening in the world, just like everyone else."

—Kris Andrews


Image of theatre students performing.
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