It is incredibly strange to be an actor during a pandemic. So many aspects of my entire job involve getting large groups of people together to sit quietly and breathe the same air for hours on end. Luckily, many other aspects of my job involve creative problem solving and flexibility in the face of impossible tasks. Also, luckily, I have incredible friends and collaborators who are experienced; even gifted, in the ways of "Make Theatre However You Can."
Trey Tatum and Bridget Leak and I had been planning on remounting last year's Cincinnati Fringe Festival sell-out show, "Zoinks!" for this summer's Fringe Festival in Saskatoon, as well as working together on a new show for Cincy Fringe 2020. Since the borders are closed and Cincy Fringe went totally digital, some flexibility and creativity was called for.
Trey wrote and acted in this new show, I acted as well, and Bridget directed us, all over the once-unheard-of, now-ubiquitous Zoom. We rehearsed over Zoom. We did readings over Zoom. Trey taught me how to program a light board over Zoom (2/10, Do Not Recommend.) We were not sure it was going to work.
My friends, it WORKS.
We were all adamant that we wanted this to be the closest thing we could make to a piece of theatre, because none of us are filmmakers. My acting for camera skills came in handy in a big way, but it was a completely different beast that either film or theatre. We did the whole thing in one take, we used our real names to make it feel more intimate, we memorized the beast. All in less time that it took to write, stage, and rehearse Zoinks!, and without ever interacting face to face, outside of a few rushed and socially distanced prop dropoffs. The show, "Killjoy, Ohio," went on to take a coveted "Pick of the Fringe" award (my second in a row, and Trey and Bridget's third!) garnering wonderful reviews and hundreds of viewings.
Now it is being split into two pieces and aired on consecutive nights at the Saskatoon Fringe Festival's digital lineup next week! The three of us be doing talkbacks on August 4th and 5th after each segment of the show, which will be loads of fun, I'm sure. The most wonderful part is that this whole festival, with ten shows from artists all over North America, is completely free.
Good. Free. Theatre.
What a world.