By Pete Zamplas
Asheville – Local theaters are monetizing productions online to get through their prolonged Coronavirus-triggered shutdown, such as Asheville Community Theatre shows and a festival of one-act plays in Magnetic Theatre.
Such productions are viewed via Zoom Video Conferencing, a free app available from Google or iPhone app stores. ACT, Magnetic and other performance venue facilities are closed to comply with statewide COVID-19 restrictions. Thus, many theaters are instead “zooming” online to provide entertainment and earn pivotal revenue.
Next for Magnetic, Siobhan (pronounced Sha-von) O’Loughlin performs Please Don’t Touch the Artist: My Heart Goes Zoom. Part two is this Saturday, June 13, at 7:30 pm. Part one of her interactive show was June 3.
O’Loughlin busily and visibly takes notes as she and Dennissa Young, the producer, process viewer opinions and feedback on the fly, to spur a thoughtful and fun look at romantic dilemmas. Many are based on O’Loughlin’s actual interactions with friends. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Prompts to the online audience include what male name one associates with “hot guy.” Viewers essentially tweet on the viewing screen, during the show. They also signal visually. They are instructed to evaluate comments by fluttering fingers. To agree, they lift fingers and flutter them for thumbs up-like “up-twinkles.” To reject the notion or indicate uncertainty, viewers are to “down-twinkle” by pointing hands in opposite directions.
O’Loughlin reportedly seeks to personally chat with as many viewers as she can in the show’s Zoom Room. The “gallery” mode lets a viewer see the audience faces in small blocks, a la the Hollywood Squares classic TV show.
The Zoom link is via siobhanoloughlin.com/pdt.
Magnetic’s ticket pricing is typically “pay what you can.” Artistic Director Katie Jones stated “all proceeds will be donated to Black Visions Collective” from O’Loughlin’s show, and the often weekly Magnetic Laboratory series.
One Act Plays
Next week, Magnetic streams its One Act Play Festival live with a “viewing party” of viewers. It is on Friday, June 19, starting at 7:30 pm. The Zoom link is to be emailed to ticket buyers a half-hour ahead.
These plays, their authors and then directors are: Hamlet’s Dead (written by Dennis Bohr, directed by Strother Stingley), Mackerel Sky (Andrew Gallant, Julia Christgau), Pick Up (Jonathan Wickremasinghe-Kuhn, Carin Metzger), Person Meditating upon Madness (David Brendan Hopes, Tippin), Rosa & Leo (Adam Szudrich, John Baldwin), The Opposite of Entropy (Terran Wanderer, Jessica Johnson), Windowless White Vans (Bret Murphy author, Daniel Moore director).
Asheville Community Theatre began in 1946, and is among the oldest community theaters in the nation. ACT has regularly streamed shows live in recent weeks.
Next up is Listen To This: Stories and More, on Thursday, June 25 at 7:30 p.m. This is part of ACT’s more avant-garde 35below programming.
Tickets are $15 each. Once buying a ticket, the purchaser is emailed a link to the Zoom session. ACT co-sponsors a weekly Battle of the Community Theatre Stars trivia contest series, also streamed live. Area theaters compete against each other, in various categories.
Bradshaw Call represents Team ACT in the eighth such contest. It is this Saturday, June 13 at 7-7:30 p.m. Call teaches acting, for Asheville Performing Arts Academy. The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem and High Point Community Theatre join ACT. Team Theatre Charlotte won the prior contest.
A raffle drawing is June 28. The prize is a week-long trip for two to London, England to be taken by the end of 2021. Or, the winner can instead receive the cash value of $10,000. Each raffle ticket is $50, with money helping ACT through the ongoing shutdown. This is the fourth such London trip raffle by ACT.
Admission for some ACT online shows have been by voluntary donations, rather than a set fee. There are links to donate to ACT, on its website and Facebook page.
For instance, suggested ticket donations were typically $20, $10 or $5 plus a processing fee for the latest show. That was Carrying On With Murphy: Out of the House and Onto the Stage on Saturday, June 6. Murphy Funkhouser Capps, an ACT board member, did this witty one-woman show.
Earlier ACT shows included Asheville Virtual Theatre Prom: Theatre Through the Decades May 23, and Little Women on May 30 which sold out for on-line viewers. Julie Wharton directed, and held rehearsals online and not in person, in accordance with social distancing.
ACT had children perform remotely for Peter Pan and the Great Adventure on June 1, then Snow Queen and the Impossible Journey June 2. “Keep using those imaginations,” patron Amanda Klinikowski wrote on Facebook after seeing them. “It can take you anywhere!”
Separate from the shows are various other ACT segments online. Living Room Cabaret on May 26 had Lerner-Loewe musical tunes sung by Mark Jones, Stephanie Marzuola and Kelli Mullinix. Songs were from Camelot, My Fair Lady and Brigadoon.
For more info, check about ACT at ashevilletheatre.org or Magnetic at themagnetictheatre.org.