Drawn Closer: The Performance of a Lifetime for 22 Kids

When COVID took away this school's stage, Cox used technology to help bring it back.

When COVID took away this school’s stage, Cox used technology to help bring it back.

There’s no doubt that isolation has had an impact on kids in the Coronavirus Era. Virtual learning has been a focus for school systems – while extracurriculars and “nonessential” activities continue to be affected, leaving many kids without a vital outlet for connection with peers.

That’s what happened at Thurman White Academy of the Performing Arts, in Clark County Nevada. Closed for face-to-face learning since the pandemic hit in March of last year, a drama class of 22 middle schoolers, led by passionate teacher Candy Wilder, found school performances jeopardized by an inability to meet face-to-face.

“They’re theater kids, so they perform,” said Ms. Wilder, “They want to put that strong face forward, and it makes me very proud as their teacher. But I know they are missing out on those opportunities, and it’s heartbreaking.”

“We were honored to work with these students – and proud to help bring them together in this special way”

Driven by a vision of delivering human connection where it’s needed most, Cox took matters into its own hands. Bringing in Oscar-winning director, Patrick Osborne, along with some cutting-edge technology, the company coordinated a virtual production that let these young stars shine in the performance of a lifetime.

Thurman White Academy student Ava Betancort using animation tablet to voice the character “The Director”

Instead of a typical school play, each student received tablets programmed with animation technology, to voice the characters in an animated film, from the safety of their own homes. Everything from rehearsals to students’ reactions to the animated characters drawn in their likeness was captured on film for a behind-the-scenes look at what will be become a fully produced animated short being televised on YurView in May.

For Cox, this effort represents another step in an ongoing commitment to deliver human connection where it’s needed most and a demonstration of the power of technology to bring people closer.

“We were honored to work with these students – and proud to help bring them together in this special way,” said Rachel Negretti, Director, Brand Strategy.

As for the kid’s reactions to their animated characters? You’ll have to watch the film to see it.

Ways to Watch
  • Check local listings on Cox YurView channels through June 5th.
  • On-Demand using “Drawn Closer” through your Contour remote after May 9th.
  • Cox’s YouTube and Facebook pages.
For more information about Drawn Closer, check out these articles

PR Newswire: Animated Short ‘Drawn Closer’ by Cox Gives Middle-School Students Performance of a Lifetime

Variety: Drawn Closer Brings a Middle School Play to Life With Facial Capture Technology

Ad Age: Cox is Turning a Middle School Drama Production into an Animated Short

8 News Now Las Vegas: Theater students unable to perform during pandemic get creative, star in animated short ‘Drawn Closer’

Muse by Clio: How an Oscar Winner Turned a Middle School Play Into an Animated Short During Covid