“She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms” opened Nov. 13

This+year%2C+the+EWU+theatre+department+is+performing+their+play+over+zoom.+Tickets+are+free+for+all+EWU+students.

This year, the EWU theatre department is performing their play over zoom. Tickets are free for all EWU students.

By Ben Blakney, Technology Director

 

EWU’s theatre department has made their first forays into all-Zoom performances this fall quarter.

Director Jeff Sanders followed up with The Easterner, detailing some of the victories and struggles of presenting a play to a quarantined audience.

“We’ve just been apprenticing together,” said Sanders. “This is a situation where we’re all fairly new to the technology that we’re using to implement the visuals and the audio of this show.”

The show “She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms” uses Dungeons and Dragons to tell the story of Agnes and her younger sister Tilly, who learn about their deeper selves by playing D&D.

“It’s a play about inclusion … about grief, love and imagination,” said Sanders. He also said it does not shy away from its comedic elements.

Sanders references the Florence + The Machine lyric, “It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back,” when it comes to the show’s themes.

Given that the actors cannot be present on stage for their performances, Sanders and his crew had to adapt. 

“Each actor was sent a green screen, a ring light, a webcam, and a little hard-wired microphone. They’re all in their own living spaces.” Jeff Sanders, Director

Obstacles to performing in-home were also present, like poor internet or underpowered computer hardware. To counter this, Sanders said they established “pods,” where the actor was provided both a stronger internet and computer to bring them up to par.

“One particular actor has a very talkative dog that we decided we would include in the play,” said Sanders.

Sanders said the actors’ spaces called for great individuality in the setups. Since everyone has a unique layout to their now-acting spaces, it was a hurdle to overcome. “We just tried to set up the home studios as best we could,” said Sanders. “And you can’t control everything. You can’t avoid the Cheney train in the background.”

Sanders also entertained the idea that winter quarter’s script is performable while social distancing. He is considering a smaller-casted musical that can be performed with six feet between actors. Sanders is interested in streaming a production live from EWU’s stage, and is communicating with EWU administration to see if said production can be approved.

If that does not get approved, Sanders, his crew and his actors will be able to carry their experiences from this show forward.

“There is no set ticket price.” -Jeff Sanders, Director

Earlier in the year, Sanders and company struggled to figure out how to set up ticketing for this event. By using Zoom to host a show, the implications of charging money have a great deal of hoops to jump through, compared to hosting the show themselves. By utilizing the service virtual box office Showtix4u, EWU was able to set up functional ticketing for the show.

“They handle everything,” said Sanders. “There is no set ticket price. If you have nothing to pay, you’re good. Should you feel inclined to donate a few dollars, $5, $10, $1,000, you can do so.”

Tickets are obtainable through links, or by scanning a digital poster’s QR code.

“You basically drop your email in, and you’re sent a link for the night you want to attend,” said Sanders.

The show functions synchronously, meaning it’s as close to a classic in-person show as possible. Once audiences have obtained their links, they will need to log into the live Zoom as spectators. The actors will perform in real-time.

“It’s not on demand, so you get a date and a time that you [requested],” Jeff Sanders, Director

“She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms” opened on Friday, Nov. 13, and played again on Saturday, Nov. 14. The next showings will be held the following weekend on Nov. 20 and 21. The show’s runtime is 90 minutes.

“This is such a beautiful opportunity to support your fellow students,” said Sanders. “One element of the pandemic that’s so difficult is we lose a sense of community, [and it’s] not only a physical isolation but a spiritual one. Maybe we can’t commune in our ‘church’, at least for right now, but at least we have this communion.”

Sanders also said it’s important to uplift each other and still try to create in the face of this great obstacle. He hopes EWU will have a great connection with the play’s themes.

EWU’s details about the show’s hosting can be found here.

Tickets can be purchased at this link.