I continue to be energized by Zoom/Theatre. Perhaps a new word needs to be adopted, as I am also hearing from folks that they are awaiting the return to live theatre, and don’t want to participate in Zoom/Theatre. I understand and appreciate their concerns. The “/” symbol that I am using seems to fit for me—it suggests the divide between these two ideas, the imperfection of joining the two media, yet also the close connection that has occurred.
As a college arts administrator, I find there is an urgency to keep arts programming alive during these times. That need has led to my fierce embrace of this new method of sharing theatre and other performance forms. It is allowing us to present ourselves, reminding the community at large that we are viable.
As a college administrator concerned about access and equity, I also see a leveling of the playing field. I get to see Yo-Yo Ma in his house now, a Julliard student is dancing in her kitchen, Lin-Manuel Miranda is singing to a young girl in a private concert who had never even dreamed that she would have this moment. And, I enjoy seeing the cast of Hamilton in their t-shirts. I have always been fascinated with rehearsal, as much as I love costumes, lights and set.
At Seminole State College in mid-March, students were in tech week for a production of SILENT SKY by Lauren Gunderson. They were devastated when we had to cancel. Next week, June 4 at 7 pm, EST, they will not only be sharing a reading of the work, playwright Lauren Gunderson will be in attendance and speaking to the group. I remember when I was in college and got to meet Wendy Wasserstein after rehearsing UNCOMMON WOMEN AND OTHERS—I know how significant this will be for these students in their lives as theater artists. We will eventually reschedule the full production, which will be staged in a Planetarium, so the audience will see the sky through Henrietta Levitt’s eyes. This day will come. In the meantime, we have the potential for an international audience to hear these words and to witness our commitment to student learning.
The Pandemic Play Reading Series, led by Amy Taipale Canfield, has served as the model for my college’s answer to continuity of instruction. Silent Sky, and an earlier Zoom production of Check, Please (both directed by Niki Salamon) will be followed by a Reader’s Theatre Series on Zoom this Fall. We will engage with literature with a focus on scripts, until the day comes when we can produce live theater again.
Yes, I want to go back to live theatre again. Yet—I am now working with colleagues that I haven’t seen in 20 years. I want to continue to do that once we get back to live theatre. I am reading Shakespeare aloud every week with The Adirondack Shakespeare Company, (now The Fireside Shakespeare in its Zoom/Theatre format). My dear friend and colleague, Doug Durlacher invited me to one of his performances with the group, and I then asked for the opportunity to read. How delightful it was to read Falstaff and Quickly together. We are halfway through the History plays. Tara Bradway provides a chat each Tuesday evening which provides historical background. I would love to continue to follow this group once we are back. I have met wonderful colleagues and collaborated with colleagues from so many different stages of my life in The Pandemic Collective, as we create Moments together based on the work of the Tectonic Theater. I want to continue to do that. A whole world has opened up to me. I have been transported. I see new and old friends almost every day of the week on Zoom. I want to keep that going.