Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - 35

the performers were excited to learn OBS
because it opened up a world of possibilities when it came to blocking and scenery
elements that could transcend the Zoom
boxes.
One of Saletan's favorite scenes was a
moment where she and three other performers had to act like they were all in the
same car. This scene used OBS to layer
PNG images on top of the performers'
cameras to create the environment of a
car in all four boxes. Saletan mentioned
the rearview mirror with a dangling tree
air freshener that was split in half across
her and another's screen so that it really
did look like they were all in the same car.
Romein also assumed a role as an
educator so that performers could troubleshoot issues on their own. " Every day
was a new problem. There were just so
many things that were new to us, " he says.
When I had new files to add to the show
or replace old ones, I wasn't sending them
to one computer with one operator, I was
sending them to nine potential computers
with nine operators, each operating a different make and model of computer. And
when things didn't work you couldn't just
sit in front of the computer and debug it
yourself, you would have to walk people
through it and work with them to identify
the problem. "
It was important that everyone on
the production team was willing to blur
the lines between their traditional role
and what this performance demanded.
Romein, similarly to Khayat, was also unclear about his exact responsibilities, but
says, " I think the entire design team did
a great job of supporting each other and
embracing the fluidity of what each department was responsible for. "
Overall, it was a steep technical learning curve for everyone involved. Theatre
technology fundamentally doesn't change
very much, yet to make this show happen, individuals had to think more like
a computer engineer than a technician
who knows how to hang lights, work the
fly system, or build a set. " I also think
that what we did was really successful. I
think we had a really good team in order
to solve things, " says Shayne. Despite the
many challenges, most of the designers
seemed to have this perspective that, in
the end, it was, in fact, a successful show.

Final Performances

This production still had front-of-house
staff, but they were now called " audience

Theatre
technology
fundamentally
doesn't change
very much, yet
to make this
show happen,
individuals had
to think more
like a computer
engineer than a
technician who
knows how to
hang lights, work
the fly system,
or build a set.

support " and were available to field questions via the chat function for the duration
of the show. " In addition to ensuring the
audience had an access line to some basic tech support for proper performance
viewing, we also were tasked with working with behind-the-scenes crew members to monitor chat and video/audio
feeds to ensure the removal of inappropriate or incorrectly timed chats/videos/
audios, both to keep the show moving
and to make the performance environment a safe space for both audience and
performers, " says Brendon Martin, TAPS'
marketing and special events coordinator.
The live performances themselves
were not flawless. From the inevitable
Zoom bombers (or audience members

entering late with their cameras on), to
a performer dropping out of the call midshow, and a critical computer dying minutes before the start, there were plenty of
problems for technical support to solve.
But these issues made the performance feel real.
The behind-the-scenes work felt very
similar to an in-person show. There was
indeed tension as problems were solved
as quickly as possible in between scenes.
Most importantly, outside of the quick
problem-solving was also a sense of camaraderie among the crew. Everyone
was on headset talking to one another as
Khayat's voice called cue after cue over
everything.
Khayat says the actual calling of the
show wasn't dissimilar to calling a regular show, and though she reports never
having had a " perfect show moment, "
she also felt the atmosphere was similar
to other shows especially at the end of
every show when, for the final song, the
performers would invite all of the audience members to turn on their cameras
and join in dancing with them. The chillinducing moment gave the performers a
chance to actually interact with the audience members and receive a unique kind
of feedback.
All collaborators acknowledged the
need for more time, that future shows
would inevitably be easier given all of the
problem-solving already accomplished,
and that now that this production was
done, there could be no exact repeat of
it. " It would be a different show and different process if we did it over again, but
it was completely new to us at the time
and that was terrifying and exhilarating in
equal measure, " Romein says.
Truly, this show, through a dedicated
team, defied the odds and created something that was not only safely distanced,
but also technically advanced, interesting
to watch, and exciting to work on.
Kieran Hood is a sophomore at
Stanford University studying
English and theatre and
performance studies. She is
concentrating in the fields of
creative writing and theatre-making. Along
with her work as an assistant technical director
for Beyond the Wound is a Portal, she has
been a technical director for Ram's Head
Theatrical Society's Pippin and a scenic designer
for Ram Head's student-written winter show,
All the Difference.

SPRING 2021 | THEATRE DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY

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Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021

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