Home Trade school The New York Times Presents Drama Class of 2020, which graduated amid COVID-19 shutdown

The New York Times Presents Drama Class of 2020, which graduated amid COVID-19 shutdown


Recent alumni of the top-ranked School of Drama are the subject of an in-depth report by New York Times theater reporter Michael Paulson, published online Wednesday and scheduled for the next Sunday print edition. “These drama students have been trained for years. Then Theater Vanished ”describes“ how a North Carolina class in 2020 pulled off the launch that wasn’t – hurt, push and dream ”.

The story, promoted by The Times as a daily “good read,” describes how the senior drama class saw its demonstration tour – the traditional launch in the industry – cut short, its last months on campus canceled and its opening ceremony postponed as COVID-19 began to spread across the country. UNCSA suspended classes and in-person performances in March 2020, while drama students were in Atlanta, the second stop on a four-city tour that reportedly included Los Angeles and New York in addition to the first. stage in Chicago.

“The New York Times report highlights the resilience and ingenuity of the actors and directors at our theater school,” Chancellor Brian Cole said. “These character traits are not uncommon among our UNCSA students and alumni, as are artists around the world. We shared their disappointment and anxiety at seeing their senior year shortened in such unexpected ways.

“We also share their enthusiasm as the arts and entertainment industry prepares to resume live performances,” he continued. “And we will enthusiastically applaud them every step of the way as they embark on meaningful careers and help fuel the artistic renaissance that we see as audiences return.”

The article notes that the School of Drama was recently ranked # 4 in the world by influential industry trade publication The Hollywood Reporter, and mentions alumni Anthony Mackie, Mary-Louise Parker, Joe Mantello, Jonathan Majors and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Sam Sherman and Lance Smith are celebrating the start of the academic year, which included the 2020 class and the 2021 class. / Photo: Bryan Derbella for The New York Times

The article focuses in part on the native of Winston-Salem Lance Smith, who returned after a three-month stay in Los Angeles, where he found no work due to the pandemic’s effect on the industry. A long-time resident of Winston-Salem, Smith graduated from the UNCSA High School Drama Program in 2016 before being accepted into the undergraduate program. When the Class of 2020 was invited to participate in this year’s graduation ceremony, he and a classmate, Sam sherman, decided to attend together.

The article describes how Smith spent the past year doing daily exercises such as voice warm-ups, stretching, and text analysis, while auditioning through self-recording and composing and singing R&B and hip tunes. -hop on a computer in his room. “I try to stay ready,” he said, “so I don’t have to prepare myself. “

The New York Times story mentions classmates who spent time during the pandemic helping in an animal hospital, working in construction, trading cryptocurrency, doing bookkeeping work, being nanny, drive for GrubHub and start graduate school. He also notes the first successes of Ainsley Seiger Cary, who landed the role of hacker Jet Slootmaekers in NBC’s “Law & Order: Organized Crime”; Passionate Jasper, who landed a “small but memorable role” in the Netflix movie “End of the Road” with Queen Latifah; Sean Pile, who was part of the ensemble for an Audible production of the new musical “Row” with the prestigious Williamstown Theater Festival; Trey fitts, who starred in a streaming play as part of an annual New Talent Festival at Ars Nova, a popular off-Broadway theater; and Patrick monaghan, who booked an ad for Butterfinger.

Ainsley Seiger landed a recurring role in "Law and order: organized crime" shortly after graduating in 2020.

Ainsley Sieger landed a recurring role in “Law & Order: Organized Crime” shortly after graduating in 2020. / Photo: Victor Llorente for The New York Times

The story also describes how the performers reacted to the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed in the summer of 2020, organizing into book clubs and discussion groups to address current events as well as issues. structural aspects of the entertainment world.

“Graduating right now is change” Abigail Holland is quoted as saying, “and if you breathe with it and let the moment change you – and we should let the moment change us – that was monumental.”

The article says Sherman – back in Washington, DC, after debuting in May – got involved in the Reclamation Project, which seeks to shape a more equitable theater world. “It’s going to take a radical re-imagining, and I want to be a part of it,” he commented.

The article also quotes Monaghan, who will produce two evenings of theater in Red Bank, New Jersey. “I knew I wanted to make art that showcased voices that weren’t mine, people that didn’t look like me,” he said. “So I went to an NAACP meeting, and the first thing someone said was, ‘I want to do a theater night. “”

Journalist Paulson notes that the 2020 class is ready to “hit the reset button.” Seven of the 23 people are already in New York City to find ways to pay their bills while launching careers in theater, film and television.

“I have no doubts that the 2020 Class members will produce art that inspires us and challenges us to be better, to do better,” said Scott Zigler, Dean of the School of Drama at UNCSA . “The New York Times article highlights their tenacity and passion, and soon their talent as actors, directors and content creators will be on display to the world.”

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