Tuesday, September 01, 2020

On Line Theatre - Where all your Streams can still come True

 I don't need to begin this post by recapping the safety measures that are in place in the world right now and why they exist in the year 2020. (see the news for the continuous loop)  For all of us in the live entertainment industry; actors, singers, dancers, writers, stage hands, tech crew, theatre staff, ushers, box office workers, et al. , we are waiting patiently in the wings for the Earth to lifted from the funk and a version or "normal" to be set in place.  (whatever normal will be now). And the ghost light has been left on for us.

When I was sitting at my desk, oh so many years ago, staring at a concrete basement wall, (I could get more writing done if there were no windows),  I never for an instant thought, I wonder if I should make provisions in this script so it can easily be adapted for a virtual online performance. What if a malady should occur sometime in the future that would render public activities, null and void? Should I think ahead?

 For one thing, at the time I began writing plays, Windows 3.1 was new O/S and there was no such thing as streaming video quite yet. Prodigy and AOL were the internet providers. All any playwright thought about was -  how will my words carry onto a stage in a theatre in front of an audience? That is, an audience of people, all sitting together, next to one another in the same room. All breathing and stuff. We did not consider a day when a group of people gathered together, whether on a stage as actors or sitting in seats as audience would not be safe. Could we prevail? Would we recover this tradition that was now a health risk? Would live entertainment go the way of Vaudeville, Silent films, or the Betamax?  

But Wait. Here in the Second Act-

The world began adapting. That seemed to be the thing to do. Well, if we create spaces and wear masks.... if we do this or that... but what of the Entertainment industry? Thankfully, computer technology kept evolving along with data transmission and High Speed internet.  Prodigy went away - but I think AOL is still around.  Youtube was born and streaming services ironed out the kinks, (some of them),  right at a time when the world really needed it.  Education could resume in a virtual setting. Office workers could remote from home. But what of entertainment? I mean, live entertainment? Could we somehow adapt and use this streaming medium to carry on for the interim? Could a theatre production be reconfigured from a live audience setting to a virtual online setting? Why not? Along with all of those productions that were video taped or filmed from years gone by, (besides Hamilton), could a group do a Zoom show? Why not? 

A quick search on the internet found many live theatre performances available. For example:

Dublin’s historic Abbey Theatre presents a Zoom adaptation of its well-received 2019 production of  Lisa Tierney-Keogh’s This Beautiful Village,  through Sept 17th 2020 -Tickets under $6

The Met continues  its immensely popular rollout of past performances, recorded in HD and viewable for free. A different archival production goes live at 7:30pm each night and remains online for the next 23 hours

A Complete List Can Be Found  HERE

Can we prevail? Can we Adapt? I have since received a few inquires about modifying a few of my plays for Streaming platforms. Sure. Why not?  It appears to be promising start. It will take time.  Who knows, maybe by that time it will be safe to sit in a theatre with other people again.

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