Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - 33

Even though these virtual stagehands
were good for IT help, the virtual set-up
still left performers to do costume changes on their own, something that is difficult even in-person when a microphone
is involved. In addition, the virtual format
meant that the performers' stages were
their own bedrooms. Though the whole
setup took a lot of space and some performers felt awkward about working and
sleeping in the same area, Saletan says
the depth of the room and the symbolic
meaning of their childhood bedrooms
added a layer of meaning to the performance that a green screen could not.

Stage Managers and Designers

The management, technical, and designer roles were also forced to adjust to the
situation. The stage management team
was in charge of moving the performers'
squares to make sure the audience always saw the correct layout, in addition to
calling the cues and delegating tasks during technical hiccups. The lighting operator was controlling lights remotely from
a computer, while the sound operator
likewise was taking sound cues. A third
operator, running QLab and OSC, would
request performers turn on and off their
mics.
An increased level of trust between the
technical staff, operators, stage managers,
and the performers was critical because
actions could not always be seen. Khayat
mentioned that she had to learn to trust
that when her QLab operator claimed a
cue that did not execute had been taken,
as often the missed cue was not an operator error but simply a technological one.
This show required tech rehearsals every Friday, so instead of only using a traditional tech week, Khayat was left unsure
about who was actually in charge of these
rehearsals. There was no precedent for
such a performance process, so Khayat
was left without the backing of precedent
to assert authority that is normally visibly
handed over at the end of the rehearsal
process. Khayat felt that tech rehearsals
sometimes lacked the structure and assertive decision-making needed to stay
on track. For the future, she suggested
having a conversation early on in the process to set guidelines and expectations
for the new roles a virtual performance
demands.

Lighting and Sound

Designers also had to change their

Image 8: A screenshot of the QLC screen with the " soft key " cue triggers. | Courtesy of Tony Shayne.

Image 9: Another screenshot of the QLC software that controlled the lighting remotely for Wound/Portal. |
Courtesy of Tony Shayne.

expectations as they found themselves
limited by the virtual format. Tony
Shayne, the lighting designer, found the
show difficult, in comparison to traditional processes. He could only attempt to
create lighting effects that he wanted during rehearsals when performers were on
camera. Even then, it was sometimes difficult as performers were sometimes not
rehearsing in the space where they would
perform the show. This was drastically
different from the freedom he normally
has working on a show when he can adjust lights as needed during dark hours.
Shayne suggests future productions have
a dummy in the room to design lights on

while the performers took classes and
went about their lives.
Like the actors and technical staff,
Shayne also had to adjust to the everchanging script and choreography that
is typical of devised work. He knew that
the primary focus area would be lighting
the desk where the performers sat, but as
ideas of green screens, backdrops, and
performers lying on the floor were floated
as options, he had to make decisions so
that he could adapt to the changing circumstances. It was a different timeline
than Shayne was used to in a traditional
theatre setting. He had to make a lot of
decisions without knowing what would

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Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021

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