Working Without Pants

I don’t want to say it too loudly, and don’t say you heard it from me because I don’t want to tempt fate in 2020, but live theatre might be coming back! Not the way we knew it before, not just yet, but at least I feel some hope that something creative is happening in our theatre community.

So many theatres are having a tough time staying afloat and trying to put on a show in the spaces they have doesn’t seem possible right now. Although the theatre where I work has the luxury of lots of space where we can spread out the audience, use an entire mall for our lobby and even give each actor a large area backstage for personal distancing when not on stage, there is still the issue of audiences who don’t feel ready to venture out and cast members who still aren’t sure about being around other actors.

Like I said in my last post, in trying to be sensitive to how others feel, I can only listen to what people tell me. It seems that following all of the guidelines and going the extra mile for what logically seems safe only goes so far. If minds have been made up that we can’t do theatre, then they are right- I can’t do a show alone. (How often have I blogged about collaboration in productions??)

So creativity has to go well beyond what we have done before. And theatres are beginning to step up with new, inventive ideas.

Last week Tim and I went to our friends’ house to watch another theatre group present a play online. We were safely on the back porch, sat on sofas distanced across from each other and ate pie and drank lovely beverages.

The show went off without a hitch and the play lent itself well to this format. The main character was played by an improv guy, so whenever there were tiny glitches, he knew how to keep up the pace and not let the show grind to a halt due to technical difficulties. The cast was fun and overall, we had a great time watching theatre together!

Now, we are ready to put together our own attempt at giving the community some live theatre. And we are actually going live.

In order to keep everyone comfortable and safe, we will be outside. Actually, we are dragging out the curtains and platforms, microphones and lights, and setting up in the parking lot. We will be distanced and even have someone who will clean between each person who graces the stage, although this cleaning lady leaves a little to be desired sometimes. (I’m sure it will be fine!!)

We will not be rehearsing as a group, just one rehearsal per actor with one director, one producer and a tech guy, all spread out so far that we will need the microphone in order to hear each other. It will certainly be a different experience for me as a director, but I have already learned a ton putting together something like this from scratch and in a different situation than we have ever been in before.

Each actor has written their own story so I guess you could say it is an original work, a world premiere, a first of its kind anywhere in the world!!! (OK- I got a little carried away!) But it will be a unique group of performances that shares with the audience some of the funny, touching and unimaginable things that have been going on for the past few months.

It is a way to share our common experiences and some of our unique stories. We have put together some of the best actors and writers in the area, presenting their adventures and ordeals from their own perspectives. It will be a way to safely get out and enjoy a live performance.

As for me, and I hope the actors involved, it is a way to not only give some entertaining moments to the community, but will also let us express ourselves creatively. I truly believe when you stifle your creativity, whether your gift is singing, painting, dancing, or writing, not doing that thing that brings you joy can drive you mad!

So for about an hour and a half, on September 12 at 7:30 in the parking lot at Brookwood Mall, we are going to try to be safe, be mindful and still be creative. We are going to attempt to make you laugh, make you think, make you commiserate and above all else give you a chance to be out of the house and be entertained. And all of that for free!

I am feeling better already.

For free reservations go to homewoodtheatre.comĀ 

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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.