Using the allegory of Sisyphus from ancient Greek mythology, we examine the problems that arose while teaching Year 9 drama classes online during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in Aotearoa, New Zealand. At times we have felt like Sisyphus, forced to push a boulder uphill forever. We became adept at using the school’s chosen online platform, in this case, Microsoft Teams. For all teachers, this meant that students were no longer in an actual classroom with their peers but met in a virtual space as a series of little icons on a screen. For drama, this disrupted the very essence of the praxis. Drama is, at its heart, an embodied, interactive “subject”, requiring collaboration, cooperation and participation. Like Sisyphus, we have, at times, felt the task of teaching drama cannot be truly accomplished. In this article, we focus specifically on the Year 9 drama students, the youngest year group at secondary colleges in New Zealand. They are part of the generation defined as Gen Z (Beresford Research, 2022), “digital natives who have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones” (Parker & Igielnik, 2020., para. 4). We compare the expectations and interactions of a traditional drama classroom with those online. We explore the approaches we took to encourage student participation in this new forum, trying to find dramatic strategies to mitigate some of the problems that arose. We discuss the consequences and outcomes of teaching drama remotely. Unlike Sisyphus, can we learn from successes and failures, or are we as drama teachers doomed forever to roll a large rock uphill?
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