Using iPads to explore the role of digital media in Theater creation, study, and teaching

During the Spring, 2012 semester, Jules Odendahl-James in Duke’s Department of Theater Studies plans to have students enrolled in the program’s Theater Production course use the video and audio capabilities of the iPad2 to capture the growth of a theater production and the development of its artists.

“I first introduced WordPress production blogs to the department in Spring of 2011 with The Laramie Project, and they are quickly becoming a staple of our production/teaching practice in Theater Studies,” says Odendahl-James.  “However, since much of the ‘final production’ happens at the end of the rehearsal process, much of the material pulled into the blog has been outside links and examples. This is certainly useful, but it is not quite the real-time capture (in anything but text) of the growth of a show and the learning process of its artists.”

Odendahl-James created another production blog for Duke’s Fall 2011 production of A Doll’s House.

“For spring 2012, there is an unprecedented collaboration in the works among the Departments of Theater Studies and Music, the Program in Dance and with the student organization Hoof’n’Horn to produce Ragtime: The Musical (McNally, Ahrens & Flaherty, 1998). We have already held auditions and cast over 40 students in the production and secured the support of the Duke Chamber Players as our orchestra. With such a large group at work on this piece, we wanted to facilitate student participation in the production blog, allowing them to document and reflect with greater ease and multimedia capacity.

“We are seeking tools to expand and enhance the blogging experience, also allowing students to write ‘in the moment’ of rehearsals on a lightweight, wireless, media built-in device. In the past, we’ve envisioned our production blogs as both a teaching tool and an archive of teaching and creative practices. We believe the use of iPads would further expand the reach and discussion amongst ourselves and our students about the role of digital media in theater creation, study, and teaching.”