Like most of my white-collar brethren, I've spent the last two months becoming more acquainted with online conferencing, and specifically Zoom. I've particularly enjoyed the virtual background, which thus far has enabled me to stop by two different Starship Enterprises, the Millennium Falcon, Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, The Persistence of Memory, The Garden of Earthly Delights, the Brady Bunch house, and of course the final scene of Planet of the Apes. Oh, and Delaware. Look, we're in Delaware.
What I didn't anticipate was that there would be a nascent Zoom theater movement and that I'd want any part in it. But lo and behold, I'm now engaged in two different Zoom productions, of a very different nature.
The first was the Anchorage Community Theatre Virtual Short Play Festival, a sprawling Zoom event held over 6 consecutive Sundays. My play, "Bad Necromance," went up the first weekend, and I was happy with it: I got a strong cast, and since it's a two-person play with actions that can be easily mimed or described, it came across pretty well. Some of the other plays I've seen at the festival haven't quite worked as well, and a lot of the time it has seemed to be less an issue with the play itself than with the Zoom form. The best Zoom play would be a one-man show with little physical action in it. Mark Twain Tonight, maybe? The more people in a play, the more back-and-forth there is between characters, the more snappy repartee, and the more action, the poorer the play seems to fare in Zoom, simply because of the difficulty of habing any sort of smooth, well-timed back-and-forth. Which is too bad, because my plays tend to veer much more toward exchanges than monologues.
The second is a play I wrote specifically for a Zoom event, "Screen Shots" by the On and Off Theatre Workshop in Glasgow, Scotland (my third international production, sort of.) The challenge was to write a play specifically for Zoom, which I did, in an afternoon. "Greedo on the Loose" is about a roommate hiding in the bathroom from a runaway lizard. It's definitely a trifle, barely 5 minutes long, and frankly I'm a bit surprised it got in. I can only presume it's because I have fun with the form: two characters interacting in Zoom who discover to their surprise they're only a few feet apart in real life. Also maybe it's because lots of short play festivals are a bit starved for the play that's a little too short as opposed to one that's too long. At any rate, if nothing else it's cute and I'm excited to see it staged, hopefully with some sexy Glaswegian burrs (June 12, 3:30 PM Alaska time.)