Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - 32

This is one reason Khayat later said that
the show really needed a longer timeline.
One positive about using Zoom for
rehearsals was that it allowed for breakout rooms which Chloe Chow, another
collaborator and performer, said felt very
similar to breakout groups in an in-person
rehearsal. Music rehearsals, in particular,
benefited from this capability.

Performers as Tech Support

The virtual performance format also
changed the " traditional roles " inside and
outside of rehearsals. From the very beginning, one fact wasn't going to change:
The technical staff could only help as far
as a computer screen would permit, so
the performers would have to set up, run,
and strike the majority of their own tech.
Lighting, sound, and costumes were all
shipped to each performer, and a video
series guided their set up so that precious
rehearsal time could be used for troubleshooting instead of guiding people step by
step through their installations.
Though the technical staff did everything within their power to make sure
that it was as easy as possible for the performers in this technically complex show,
things still went wrong, as they do with every live performance, and the performers
had to be able to fix their own equipment
on the fly. " I will admit that it was very,
very stressful for someone like me who
manages to break every piece of technology I touch, " says Chow. " There were times
in which my audio failed right before I
was supposed to go on or when my lights
wouldn't change and I had to turn on my
own room light last minute in addition to
any other set up before a scene. "
Saletan agreed that controlling her
own tech while acting within a scene,
especially when it was very apparent to
audiences when she looked elsewhere
on her screen in order to switch an OBS
scene or start a soundtrack, was challenging. " I guess it's not so much the tech
itself, because by showtime it was really
manageable on its own-it's more the balance of gracefully handling those novelties while staying present in the scene, "
says Saletan. Performers truly had to play
multiple roles for this production.
With all of the new responsibilities
that fell to the performers for this show,
Claire Breger-Belsky, the associate stage
manager, made sure to draw up a comprehensive pre-show checklist for all of the
performers.

Image 7: The pre-show checklist performers ran through.  | Courtesy of TAPS.

Virtual Stagehands

At first, it seemed stagehands wouldn't be
needed because sets didn't need to move,
the wings didn't need to be organized, and
costume changes could not be facilitated
over Zoom. But the team soon discovered
designated people were needed to help
with the technical issues that occurred
during the show broadcast, including
assisting performers with troubleshooting. These virtual stagehands had to be
knowledgeable about the technology in
use, needed to have tested it, and needed

32 | THEATRE DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY | SPRING 2021

experience troubleshooting it. They also
had to be able to communicate with the
performers when they were " off stage. "
Performers who needed support midperformance appreciated these virtual
stagehands. " No matter what, I always
felt like I was in capable hands-I may
not have understood how the technology
worked, but I could send a brief message
in Slack (the messaging system the show
used to communicate throughout the process) and someone more knowledgeable
would be on the case, " says Chow.



Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021

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Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - 1
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