Southern Theatre, Vol. 62, Issue 1

Page 70

Online Production: Collaboration

ing from. We had people tuning in from

Across the Continents

all across the world! The chat transcript

When Christie

became a second layer of performance as

Connolly, program

audience members shared their feelings

director and assis-

about the characters they loved and hated.

tant professor of

In theatre, we’ve always researched audi-

theatre at Union

ence response, whether it’s studying physi-

College in Ken-

ological responses or measuring attitudes

tucky, set out to

through surveys. The live chat allowed

p ro d u c e a p l a y

me to see exactly which moments spurred

with students during COVID-19,

44 x Southern Theatre x Winter 2021

Christie Connolly Union College

certain reactions from the audience.” Connolly’s experience with audience

she faced unusual

interaction highlights a unique advantage

circumstances: cast and crew members

of performing online. Rather than solicit-

participating from three continents.

ing audience members for feedback after

“At Union College, we have a large

a performance, she was able to engage

international student population,” she said.

her audience during the show. Audience

“Due to COVID, many of them were either

members had the opportunity to utilize

delayed flying back to the States or were

the chat feature or not, so their engagement

not able to return at all. Being involved

experience was customizable in that sense.

in the production helped them feel con-

Design: Fighting ‘Screen Fatigue’

nected to the school and their peers. Two

For Dahlia Al-Habieli, an assistant

actresses auditioned while they were still

professor of theatrical design at Albright

in Brazil. One actor was in Dublin, Ireland.

College in Pennsylvania, the key to keep-

One of our sound crew was in Israel, and

ing students engaged has been find-

our marketing manager was in Colombia.”

ing ways to move

Connolly chose to produce an online

beyond the screen

play written specifically for Zoom, Time

to make learning

Zones Apart, written by this author and

more active and

Lauren Lynch.

interactive.

“When I was searching for a play to pro-

“Screen fatigue

duce, I knew I wanted to do something that

is real,” she said.

fit the format of a digital space – something

“My students and I

that was written to be performed via video

had constant head-

chat,” Connolly said. “Ignoring the digital

aches by the third

element felt inauthentic and forced.”

week of remote

Dahlia Al-Habieli Albright College

With an international cast and crew

learning. Audio and podcast content as

came an international audience. To reach

well as tactile, hands-on assignments and

them virtually, Connolly said, “We used

assignments designed to get everyone up

OnTheStage [onthestage.com], a live-

and moving broke up the relentlessness of

stream specifically for virtual theatre. This

Zoom University.”

was fabulous because patrons didn’t need

Al-Habieli utilizes a number of engaging

a Zoom account to log in. They received a

resources in her classroom: demo videos,

link to a web page where our Zoom show

interactive teaching/learning tools, and

was livestreaming. I enjoyed the live chat

sharing of 2-D and 3-D work. She found

feature. During the performance, audi-

that a multi-modal approach to content

ence members could create a user name

delivery helped keep students engaged

and respond to the show. In pre-show

in online learning, and so each element of

announcements we asked the audience to

her course content was offered in at least

type in the chat where they were watch-

two modes. For example, all play texts also