My friend was in a play and I got to see it even though I was in Jersey.
Zoom. I still miss being in a room with sweaty people, either as one of them or watching them sweat for us.
I’ve watched plays in actual theatres before and commented afterwards that it felt like some of the actors weren’t in the same room as each other. Sometimes that happens, where actors get so involved in their own stuff that they forget to be “live” to one another and thereby sacrifice the single most important thing about what they’re supposed to be doing in this live-art thing. But with this live-on-zoom medium, many of the actors are literally in different rooms. They have to work double hard to try and inhabit the same relative space – to react to what they’ve been given without all the information of pheromone and spacial reference and nuance. So much gets lost but there are other angles to catch things from and other things going on. It’s a cut off and reconnected medium…
My friend lives with another actor so the pair of them could dance. That was lovely. Moments of subversion and cleverness and touch are always heavy with meaning as we climb back out of this connection-hole. Actors are a funny lot, pretending to be all sorts of different things for money. Remembering all those lines. I was asked again last night about the learning – it’s a thing. As we get further and further from an oral tradition, the notion of a brain trained to take and hold huge tracts of interaction grows less and less familiar to most people. Convenience has stolen our memory. Before writing, everything was passed down from generation to generation. More and more information is stored in devices now. We don’t even know our own phone number half the time, let alone anybody else’s.
But I was charmed by this piece, by watching lots of people I knew pretending to be from New York. I enjoyed losing myself in the otherness of it, familiar yet different as it was definitely my great friend and definitely her living room but somehow it wasn’t at the same time. And I watched it on my phone. Halfway through I even got in the bath. I had made sure my camera and mic were off, and for the first time in my life I watched live theatre while soaking in a hot bubble bath. It makes us lazy, this technology, but sometimes it’s a delightful laziness.
The panel afterwards was enlightening as well, and listening to it from the bath I felt no pressure to put my hand up and ask a question. I just let clever people talk to me about things I didn’t really know anything about until this evening. So much to think about. I’m gonna go to bed rich with thought.
I saw the last night of it, so it’s kinda pointless pitching the show to you. It was Waiting for Lefty. But you knew that already.