RESPECT Staff Members Lead Virtual Sessions at Nebraska Thespian’s Festival

On January 8th and 9th, RESPECT had the pleasure of being part of the Nebraska Thespian’s 24 Hour Play Festival. The theme of this year’s festival was “I See You”, focusing on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. RESPECT’s Consulting Artist, Aaron Winston, and Actor-Educator, Julia Ervin led two groups of students with the support of Actor Educators Donovaughn Daniels, Giovanni Quezada, and Co-Artistic Director, Samantha Zarders. Over the course of three sessions the students conceived, wrote and performed short scenes for the rest of the delegates at the festival under the group’s guidance and collaboration.

Each original piece was inspired by the students’ experiences, current RESPECT programming and devised through improvisational and writing exercises. The first group of students chose to create an original piece that reflected the evolution of Covid-19 from Summer through Winter. In the scene each student shared a monologue, voicing the impact Covid-19 has had on their lives as seniors about to graduate. During the performance, other delegates voiced that they were really able to connect to the difficult feelings expressed by the students’ performance.

The second group of students created a scene that took place virtually in a “Zoom Classroom” where chaos ensues. The teacher starts class having technical difficulties, something we all know too well in the Zoom era. This creates an environment where two students start bullying another student for their appearance. The group wanted to explore the idea of why people may have their camera off due to being a target of bullying. The scene concluded with an upstander helping to diffuse the situation and empower the target. Our collaboration with Nebraska Thespians supported our mission of “Staging Conversations” and we were particularly grateful for the opportunity to directly work with students and gain special insight into their lives during this difficult time. We’d like to thank our partners with Nebraska Thespians and all the students involved for their collaboration and meaningful work!”