Posted: November 4, 2020.
This notice provides an update on current Act One activities.
Act One is excited to announce that its classes are starting this week, as of Sunday, November 1st. The classes, along with their start dates are as follows:
For more information on the classes that are running, please visit the Classes page.
I have been asked by a few people why I chose to start classes at this time, in light of the recent postponements. It is a valid question given the current environment we are living through. I will do my best to explain the school’s perspective. I realize that not everyone may agree with our position, but I do want everyone to know the rationale that went into the decision was arrived at through careful consideration of many factors.
The primary reason for postponing the class start dates was not in the wishful hope that the pandemic would go away. That was never a realistic expectation. The decisions were made because I was seeking a point where, if not declining, then at least the GTA/Durham Region was stabilizing and getting clearer. This past week, the province finally allowed the Ministry of Health to release its modelling data and projections for the province for the next few months. While it was obviously disappointing when they indicated that COVID would be with us at the current level for the foreseeable future, there were underlying positives in their analysis. Firstly, while they said that case numbers would not be declining for the next 2-3 months, they also indicated that the numbers would likely remain within an 800-1100 per day range. This means that as long as everyone can maintain a sensible attitude with respect to physical distancing, masks and hand hygeine, we should be able to keep the environment we live in relatively stable where it is now.
It has also been difficult at times to separate conditions in Durham Region from the greater Ontario/Toronto situation. The reality is that while Toronto and other areas have seen significant increases over the past weeks, the data analysis showed that Durham Region has consistently stayed within the 25-35 case per day range. In effect, Durham Region is roughly generating one case per day per 85 sq km. While I am not trying to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic or to ignore the fact we are right next door to Toronto, this does help put the local risk level in a more accurate perspective.
The reality for the school is that from early September onwards, we have had a significant number of students who have been eager to begin as soon as possible. Postponing class starts in search of a more stable environment was done mainly in the hopes that reaching such a point would allow other interested but less certain students, an additional degree of confidence and comfort, that would enable them to also take part and not miss out on the year.
With the provincial projections indicating that the current environment is going to be the reality until at least sometime in the new year and Durham Region continuing to remain stable at present levels, this means further postponements would do nothing to help those students still unsure of things. If a student is uncomfortable taking part in activities given the current COVID situation in Durham Region, it is unlikely further postponements will change anything, as it is unlikely the situation will differ any time soon. On the other hand, every new postponement has been negatively impacting those students who are currently comfortable with Act One’s COVID protocols and eager to start. When viewed in this light, it would be unfair to these students for Act One to continue to postpone class starts further.
It was our feeling that the current situation is stable enough for us to be confident that the COVID-19 safety protocols we have put in place are as reasonable and effective as possible, without negatively impacting the drama experience. With a relatively stable situation, all students, both registered and prospective, and their families are now able to review Act One’s COVID safety measures and decide for themselves if they are comfortable participating. Ultimately, the postponements were all about giving everyone a clear opportunity to do this.
I realize that feelings towards COVID-19 span a wide spectrum. I respect the personal decisions of each family. Regardless of individual comfort levels, I hope Act One’s actions have given everyone sufficient information that if and when they may wish to reconnect with the school, that they can do so with confidence that we are doing everything we can to make their children’s drama experience as safe and positive as possible.
I wish everyone the best of health and welfare as we all navigate the upcoming Fall and Winter seasons.
Act One policy allows students to join classes for a limited number of weeks after they have started, so long as there is still space in the class. Due to the classes starting later than normal, the current deadline for accepting late start students is now Saturday, November 21st.
COVID Safety Protocol Advisory: Please note that COVID-19 safety protocols are in place for all classes. Students interested in joining a class are encouraged to review them in order to ensure they are both comfortable with respect to any health and safety concerns and that the realities of dealing responsibly with the pandemic environment will not negatively impact their enjoyment of the drama experience.
Act One is pleased to welcome Roxanne Browne to the school’s teaching staff, as the instructor for Acting On Camera classes. She takes over from Allison Mullings, who made the decision to go back to school for the coming year and could not continue due to conflicts with her education schedule. Roxanne is a British performer, now based in Toronto. Trained initially in England, she later continued her performance education in Paris, France, where she graduated from Ecole Jacques Lecoq. You can read more about Roxanne on the school’s Staff page.
For Grade 8 students considering auditioning for one of the arts-focused high schools in Durham (All Saints – Catholic and O’Neill – Public) please be advised that they will both be holding their entrance auditions for their 2021/22 school years, at the end of Jan 2021. All Saints has posted its audition information. O’Neill will be doing so later in November. As in past years, Act One will again be offering monologue and vocal coaching assistance for those students who feel this may help them to be better prepared and more confident for their audition(s). Full information on this program is available on the school website on the Other Programs page.
If anyone wishes to discuss the above or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact the school.
My instructors and I wish everyone a safe and successful journey through the upcoming Fall and Winter seasons.