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To Zoom a performance or not to zoom a performance, that is the question

Zoom Theater Production Pros and Cons

To Zoom a play or not to Zoom a play, that is the question. A recent Zoom production allowed two members from HMTC to perform in a San Francisco production. The play was called La Lechuza by Linda Amayo-Hassan, and produced by her San Francisco group, Teatro Cultura. Coming off the last show, I pondered the experience and wonder if this is an adequate play substitute format for a live play production.

This production had a 12-person cast. Many of the adult actors were first timers to this way of performing. I believe we actors jumped at the opportunity, but with some nervousness on how it will all turn out at the end. The children in the cast were mostly comfortable. I believe that is from their year long schooling in the Zoom medium. They already had a finesse for the process.

Computer glitches prevailed in the first set of rehearsals. Those were eventually resolved. Costumes were a minimum which is understandable since the face of the actor is what fits in the Zoom box. I for one, rehearsed and performed in slippers.

There were five performances for the public. The shows were a success for there was enough fun, craziness, a good story, and familiar Latino characters to enjoy. As well, I see that comedy can do well on Zoom. This show had plenty of that.

There was a Q&A after each show and the audience used the chat box to communicate. The prevailing question was what the performers thought were the pros and cons of this type of performance? For actors who must do long drives to get to rehearsals the stay-at-home was welcomed. For other actors, the stay-at-home advantages was not enough to overcome the lost interactions on the physical stage. For many actors, the energy from rehearsals and making scene discoveries is often the favorite part of the process. As well, an audience not seen is difficult for an actor to navigate. The gasps, laughter, and energy from the audience on lines and character interactions is missed. For the actor, it is like baking a cake for no one.

Then again, to not have any opportunities to perform does impact the actor. Actors need to constantly practice their skills. Zoom performance, or live streams is all that actors have right now.

As an actor in a Zoom show, it was an experience I wanted to give a try. I am glad that my only role was to act. The technical aspects were in other people’s hands. I also got to know cast and crew that otherwise I would not. That to me, that was satisfying.

Silvia Gonzalez Scherer

April 26, 2021

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