“And if you’ve lost hope
Take dope
And lock yourself in the john—
Oh, why must the show go on?”

— Noël Coward

One has the occasional misgiving that our artists will wander so far into the labyrinth of virtual reality that they will become lost, and we will never see and hear them again, en plein air, but only bump into them, now and again, when we are surfing the web or searching YouTube.

This is, of course, a groundless fear. No performer I have ever known — and I have spent my life among them — would prefer a webcam to a live audience — even though 90 percent of them are seized with panic and terror before stepping out under the lights (hence the actors’ way of wishing each other good luck: “Break a leg!”—i.e., so you won’t have to go on stage).

Musicians, dancers and actors all replenish their energy from a full auditorium the way the god Antaeus renewed his strength from contact with the Earth.

Moreover, the longer performers practice their art, the more powerful the urge often becomes to pass their hard-acquired knowledge and skill on to the next generation.

Some, indeed, discover themselves to be so good at training young performers that, if they do not themselves abandon performing altogether, they turn their teaching mission into their day job, confident that when they feel the need to return to the stage, they will be able to do so and be welcomed.

Sometimes, the teaching is done in formal classes, on a regular schedule. Sometimes, it takes the form of casual advice, offered spontaneously. Anthony Hopkins’ film debut was “The Lion in Winter,” with Katherine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole. When he came on the set that first day, and met Hepburn, she smiled at him and said: “Just say your lines — don’t try to act.”

Now that most performers and their companies have gone on line — or outside — in search of sustainable venues, it follows that, sooner or later, they will bring their teaching functions with them. Such, in any case, is what the new initiative by the marvelous Ensemble Theater Company promises, to wit: “Outdoor Fall Acting Classes for Ages 8-18.”

As the Ensemble’s descriptive material puts it:

“Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) announces its fall line-up of professional acting classes taught by award-winning professional actor/director Brian McDonald. These classes focus on acting skills and techniques, character development, relationship communication and script analysis through improvisation, scene study and theater games.

“ETC operates in a nurturing environment where students are encouraged to take risks and increase their comfort zone while building confidence and stage presence.

“These classes will be held outdoors while adhering to social distancing and mask-wearing safety measures. With a maximum class size of 10, these courses provide equal time and attention to individual needs. All classes culminate in a final online presentation of students’ work for their family and friends.

“ ‘I am so excited to lead the effort in continuing to provide quality performing-arts educational programs for our students during this difficult time.’ says McDonald. ‘We want to attract students from all walks of life, with various levels of performance experience, and offer them professional theater training that is structured and challenging, yet still fun, nurturing and safe.’

“Tuition is $220 and limited financial assistance is available to students in need.”

To read more about specific class information including dates, pricing, and class descriptions, visit the Education section at www.etcsb.org.

To email Brian McDonald directly, send your questions to bmcdonald@etcsb.org

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at gerald.carpenter@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are his own.