Department of Theatre's Scott Ripley Discovers a "Silver Lining" in Virtual Rehearsal

Department of Theatre's Scott Ripley Discovers a "Silver Lining" in Virtual Rehearsal

Scott Ripley, chair and associate professor in the Department of Theatre, approached his first remote session with understandable reservations about how a virtual theatre rehearsal would work. How do you move from the multi-dimensional realm of body language, facial expression, voice and touch that fill a stage to the flat aspect of a computer monitor?

Ripley's first rehearsal involved two students, Mason Conrad (as Jamie) and Summer Broyhill (as Paige), from the Master of Fine Arts in Acting graduate program, a joint venture of The Old Globe and USD. Despite his trepidation, Ripley explains that the students "dove in, with hope and faith and an open mind" – an attitude so many have had to adopt in the past few weeks.

The two actors arrived at a complex scene filled with angst and emotion between a husband and wife, and this attitude was tested. Ripley calls the results "a surprising and wonderful discovery."

Conrad, playing the character 'Jamie,' describes his experience with his acting counterpart. "Having Paige on screen with me – always staring at me – I felt sort of trapped, and it made me shake with fear and discomfort. It was awesome!" He says, "She kept tearing and tearing away layers until I felt naked and wanted to hit the hang up button or explode. I exploded."

Ripley explains that it was in the absence of Conrad's screen partner he was able to find the most essential part of his character. "The silver lining!" Ripley calls it.

According to Conrad, "Seeing someone cry through a screen is a really crappy feeling. I tend to comfort others with touch – how do I comfort through a screen?" He added, "As Paige cried I just sat there. And I never felt like less of a man." Which, for an actor, is a good thing.

Learn more about the Department of Theatre undergraduate and graduate programs.

begin quoteFrankly, we were skeptical about a virtual rehearsal of the scene. Still, it's all we have right now, so we dove in, with hope and faith and an open mind – and made a surprising, wonderful discovery.
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