Piloted in 2018, Access All Areas: Livestream Program consisted of a series of four interactive livestreamed workshops where primary school students across Victoria learnt about opera as an art form and the steps necessary to put a production on stage from the comfort of their classrooms.
The four workshops were built around the company’s 2018 schools production, Engelbert Humperdinck’sHansel and Gretel. Students learnt about what opera is, its history and the different voice types involved, how opera singers develop the strength behind their voices and why they sing rather than speak in a performance. They explored what goes into creating the costumes and set and were taken into the rehearsal room to meet the cast and creative teams. They also observed parts of the bump-in process at the theatre to learn about how the set is mounted on stage. Students were introduced to the different orchestral musical instruments through a live stream from an orchestral rehearsal and heard various musical layers performed from sections of theHansel and Gretel score. Finally, students watched a performance of the production, either live at Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse or via the livestream, to see everything they learnt in the workshops come to life on stage.
Three years in the making, the Access All Areas: Livestream Program
builds on the previous education program Victorian Opera offered to schools, where a singer and repetiteur would travel to schools for a one-hour workshop. However, the cost and distance factors were limiting student access. Victorian Opera, with the support of the Victorian Government’s Department of Education and Training, through the Strategic Partnerships Program, turned to livestreaming technology to increase access, leveraging the increase in technology schools are using in the classroom. The program reached a total of 1000 students from both metropolitan and regional Victoria.
To keep the energy and maximise engagement local primary schools students were invited to participate as a live studio audience during the workshops and a live online chat forum for set up enabling students and teachers livestreaming the workshops to engage in real-time discussions.
Students who attended the performance after watching all four workshops were much more attentive and asked very informed questions during the Q&A session that followed the performance.
While livestreaming can never be a substitute for a live theatre experience, it provides teachers and students with an alternative way to incorporate the arts into their school curriculums and classrooms. But more importantly, it gives thousands of children the chance to experience an art form they otherwise might not be exposed to.
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