Nate Davis, senior BFA in Acting major, and Jason Dernay, senior BFA in Acting and BA in Management double major, received CREATE! Micro-Grant funding to support their project, The Art of Adaptation, an interview-based podcast exploring how members of the artistic community are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Altogether, they produced 10 episodes, each 15-30 minutes in length.
Inspiration for the project arose when the call for micro-grant submissions came while Davis was in the middle of a course on how to record podcasts. he pivoted to virtual platforms and says the medium was surprisingly easy to work in remotely. He was able to use his new editing and recording skills for this project.
Over a period of eight weeks, Davis and Dernay worked to schedule interviews, recorded and edited the episodes, uploaded them to various podcasting platforms, and created an entire website for listeners to access the project.
Podcast guests include actors, comedians, teachers, a dance-movement therapist, a freelance journalist, a graphic designer, an author, a photographer, and a band. Some were artists previously known by the students, others they found through research to find artists speaking out about the impact of the pandemic on their professional lives.
“I have always been interested in people’s passions, what they do for their work, and how they ended up where they are,” Dernay said. “We thought these people would be great to talk to because they obviously thought about it a lot and they care about it. I wanted to hear from real people having real experiences.”
During this time, our access to normal resources is so different. I can’t just walk up to my professor in class and ask a question. We’ve been pushed to discover different resources and do out own researchNate Davis, Senior BFA in Acting major
The pair sought to give their guest artists a platform to not only promote themselves, but also uplift others in their field during a time when many are struggling to find time, funding, or emotional energy to create.
With each podcast episode, Davis and Dernay learned more about how to edit and interview people.
“I was really proud of that progression,” Dernay said. “I had so much fun learning with this, and I still have so much more to learn. We don’t have thousands of dollars of recording equipment. We didn’t have the chance to sit down and talk to our guests for hours, but everybody starts somewhere.”
Both Davis and Dernay expressed how this project has helped them to work both independently and collaboratively outside of an academic setting.
“During this time, our access to normal resources is so different. I can’t just walk up to my professor in class and ask a question. We’ve been pushed to discover different resources and do out own research,” Davis said. “Our first guest was Kellyn Uhl and I felt incredibly intimidated because she’s a professional in the real world with a real job and I’m just a college student. But all of out guests were really nice. They had great advice, and they had great things to say.”
With each of their guests, they asked “how they see this pandemic permanently affecting their industry or career?” They were surprised to hear many moments of success and future plans directly related to the pandemic and how it has changed their industry.
I had so much fun learning with this, and I still have so much more to learn.Jason Dernay, Senior BFA in Acting and BA in Management double major
Davis and Dernay would like to reconnect with their guests in the future to see what has changed. However, the uncertainty around that idea is somewhat daunting to Dernay, who said: “The question then is, when is it okay to have the retrospective? We really don’t know when it’s going to end. Will there be theatre again in a year from now? We really don’t know.” Davis takes a more optimistic view and says, “Art finds a way.”
To hear Nate and Jason discuss their creation of their podcast in greater detail, listen to Season 2, Episode 1 of the In The Aud podcast.
The CREATE! Micro-Grant Program selected 12 student projects to each receive $500 to respond critically and imaginatively to events occurring during the COIVD-19 pandemic. Those 12 projects, including Davis and Dernay’s The Art of Adaptation, can be viewed online through the CREATE! Micro-Grant Virtual Exhibit.