This is theater as we’ve never seen it.
At the final call for moxie’s performance of "The Niceties" the lights are on, the set is incomplete and the seats are taped off with caution tape. But the show is still on, staged like its never been before. On zoom.
“Learning how to give movement tips was really hard,” said Jennifer Thorn, executive director of the Moxie Theatre. “But a lot of what acting is really about is talking about intention and how you say a line and you can do all that in a conference call. And honestly, theatre people mainly just miss making theatre so much.
With little to no guidance from the state on when they will be able to reopen, Thorn says this is one way to help out moxie’s performers.
“Our industry is really suffering, but making something is better than making nothing,” Thorn said.
But with that goes a lot of work to make this feel like something you wouldn’t expect.
“We wanted this to feel like a fully designed, professional, lit production,” Thorn said.
The play called “The Niceties” is pre-recorded and then streamed through zoom at set showtimes. And the performances will be surrounded by live audience interaction.
“They can ask us questions about the process,” Thorn said. “They can make comments about their favorite lines.”
Thorn will open each show with a live greeting, and after each performance, she’ll host a webinar with guest speakers where audience members can join in the discussion.
“I think people are looking to come together and make meaningful connections,” Thorn said. “And I think that’s what theatre does best when we are live together in a space and I think we’ve captured that.”
The Niceties is set on a progressive college campus in the months before President Trump’s election.
“It’s such an important play right now," said Thorn. “This discussion at this ivy league university between an esteemed white professor of American History and her young incredibly intelligent black student who was writing a paper on the American Revolution.”
The play was filmed with three cameras on stage at Moxie with full scenic design, costumes and lighting.
“We decided to keep all of the rehearsals in zoom conference calls for almost the entire process,” said Thorn. “So for five weeks straight actors, directors, assistant directors all met on zoom.”
Thorn says designers went into the theatre one at a time to work on the set and before the play was filmed, all actors were tested for COVID-19.
“People love the show and they love being together online even if they can’t see each other online.”
The play runs through October 4. For more information on the play, visit its website.