THEATER IN THE TIME OF COVID

Ashley Hague
7 min readJun 5, 2022

**Note: this article was originally posted in Sept 2020 in Corduroy Publications**

As the pandemic rages around the world, performance artists find new ways to share their art.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Our world is no longer “normal” thanks to COVID 19. We work from home (mostly in our PJ’s) and limit our time outside. While technology has made this transition possible in many industries, it isn’t as simple for others.

Performance artists rely on live interaction with people for their jobs. Stand-up comedians, stage actors, and even late night talk show hosts all normally perform in front of live audiences. But what happens when live audiences disappear? Artists get creative. Well, more creative.

Many people might be familiar with the fact that late night hosts have taken to hosting via webcams, or that SNL stars are creating sketches from their living rooms. However, people might not know how this trickles down to smaller performances. While it might seem like the pandemic would’ve killed all smaller theater and comedy shows, the opposite appears to be true. From San Francisco to New York and all across the world, live performers and theater companies are using technology to their benefit.

Cassandra Hunter is an MFA student at the American Conservatory of Theater in San Francisco. As a first year student, she was excited to get cast as the lead in the Spring Repertory of “In Love and Warcraft,” by Madhuri Shekar. Unfortunately, that quickly derailed when California enacted it’s Shelter-In-Place order, forcing everyone to stay home except for essentials. In the wake of disappointment and fear, ACT decided to turn to Zoom, a videoconferencing service used mainly in the corporate world.

Hunter took the disappointment in strides though. “It took me probably about a month to accept that this wasn’t going to happen as planned. I was really resistant at first to the idea, believing it would be subpar acting, but eventually I realized it’s simply a new medium.”

There were two performances of “In Love and Warcraft” that took place on two separate days. After getting access to the web address and password, the audience could watch as non-active participants. With the use of camera angles, matching props and backgrounds, and good lighting, the actors were…

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