Centralia College East to Offer COVID-19 Monologue Class


Those seeking an outlet for the mental hardships presented by the COVID-19 pandemic now have a creative opportunity to do so. 

Centralia College East is offering a class in which anyone, students or not, can use a monologue to express their various struggles. Creating Art From Crisis is scheduled to start on July 7 and run through August 11, with classes held every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. through Zoom.

The class is a product of the continuing partnership between Centralia College East and the Fire Mountain Art Council. Program Manager for Centralia College East Lynn Schinnell said offering the class to students and the public was a way to salvage what is usually a summer performance collaboration at the Roxy Theatre in Morton.

“Because of COVID-19 restrictions, we canceled the summer musical production, but really wanted to still provide something in the performing arts for folks who would be interested,” Schinnell said. 

Members from Centralia College East and Fire Mountain Art Council participated in a Zoom call following the cancelation of the annual summer performance in Morton. 

She said it was the idea of instructor Lynne Olmos, who was connected through Fire Mountain Art Council, to use the monologue format as a way to document the impact COVID-19 has had on individuals and those around them.

Olmos also serves as a drama teacher at Mossyrock High School. She admitted the sudden nature in which she had to adopt distance learning, especially in a field like performance art, was an adjustment. 

“I was trying to come up with something I could do with my own students to give them something relevant,” Olmos said. “That had been on my mind, like, ‘okay, I’m going to have them create art out of this crisis.’” 

She added without knowing what would be allowed with the COVID-19 restrictions, the summer adaptation had to be something that was flexible. Although Olmos pointed out that she isn’t a counselor, she still thinks the performances in this format will allow for participants to express what they’ve been feeling. 

“Art kind of naturally fills that gap when people are just stressed and pressured,” Olmos said. “I don’t think that I personally will do a heck of a lot to counsel people through this time, but I think it’s a good way to show people how to help themselves process.” 

While the class is offered to students who are looking to earn credit, the program is also open to anyone who wants to participate. Schinnell said the fee for the public is $45. 

“The hope is that people would record their individual monologue performances, whatever expression they choose, then they’re either posted individually or put together as one unit,” Schinnell said. “It just kind of depends on how many people we get registered and what the restrictions are.” 

She continued by pointing to the aspiration that the recorded videos might be displayed in a showcase of some sort at the Roxy Theatre in August, although she acknowledges that might be wishful thinking. 

“We’re not counting on that,” Schinnell said. 

From Schinnell’s perspective, the class could serve both a short and long term purpose for those who participate. 

“I think it would be not only processing what people have gone through, but also having something that can be looked at down the road, years from now, to remember what that experience was like,” Schinnell said. “It really is kind of a time capsule documenting the experience.” 

As far as registering for the class, Schinnell said Olmos has allowed households to register as one student and only pay the $45 fee once to avoid financial restrictions that might keep people from participating. 

Those interested in taking the class and aren’t seeking college credit can call 360-496-5022 to register over the phone. 

“They don’t have to be interested, really, in performance art, either,” Schinnell said. “You don’t have to have any acting experience or any dramatic arts experience, it’s all about thinking about what you’ve been through, what everybody’s been through the last couple of months and using a creative way to process and express.”