Zoomed Out: Virtual Shows in the Time of Reopening Theatres
The past year has seen almost everyone alive come in contact, in some way, with remote technology. Zoom is probably the one that people first think of, and boy oh boy, would I have liked to own some of their stock before the pandemic.
Even though it has allowed people to stay in contact with each other, it's safe to say that most of us are "Zoom"ed out; any opportunity we can get to log off and do something in-person, we will grab it up. This extends to the world of theatre, where playhouses are slowly but steadily reopening for live performances, and one may say that the death knell has started for virtual theatre.
Instead of getting the shovels ready, let's zoom out and see what virtual theatre can now become with the added bonuses of being able to leave our homes and act with other people, because I truly feel that there is still a place for this type of theatre in our reopening communities.
Instead of being confined to your living room or home office, sometimes with a green-screen and sometimes with just a blank wall (or bedsheet) as your backdrop, virtual theatre can be rehearsed and recorded on location, something that is not always possible with live theatre.
Always wanted to do a play that takes place in a hotel room, a bowling alley, or a park? Get your actors together, roll the cameras, and then stream it for home audiences! Live theatre used to be about sets and scenery to bring the atmosphere of the play to life, but now you can do it in the actual space it is supposed to occur.
And just because you're recording to stream, doesn't mean you also can't do a hybrid of having audience members there as you record, too. Observe: Stephen Adly Gurgis' wonderful and weird The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, which is set in a courtroom. Why not actually do it in one, with the audience as the spectators? You can have twice as much audience by doing it live and virtually.
Zooming out does not have to be a bad thing, because it now allows virtual theatre creators to re-evaluate and put the technology to new and better use. Bid goodbye to staring at a camera and the bedsheets on your walls, and give a hearty hello to working in the world we missed so very much.