My year in Zoom theatre: 2021 in review

After blossoming in the spring of 2020, my involvement in Zoom theatre really expanded in 2021. Here’s a look back:

My involvement with the Alumnae Theatre Company intensified over the past year, such that now I really felt like a part of a warm, welcoming and supportive community.

Working with directors and actors with levels of experience varying from none to 40+ years, I never noticed any moments of inflated egos, a social hierarchy or feeling like an outsider. Support and encouragement to go deeper is the norm; needing to prove myself over and over again is not. I have played characters of a gender other than and the same as my own, of various ages, physicalities and ethnicities. The size of my body and its level of mobility were never issues of consideration in casting. I’ve played romantic leads, scoundrels and menches who may or may not be underdogs.

In 2021, I also had the pleasure of directing in the Zoom Theatre realm with Alumnae Theatre. I started with Toil and Trouble by Lauren Gunderson which we performed in March. I hadn’t directed anything since high school, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn how much I enjoyed it. I was especially chuffed to direct the heartbreakingly beautiful A Song for Rachel written by the brilliant Paul Koster. While Paul happens to be my husband, he is an inventive playwright with a gift for storytelling. I was touched that he trusted me with his words and am proud of what the cast and I co-created during the rehearsal process. It was presented in May. In November, we performed Wendy Lill’s Chimera.

Directing really fueled my passion to conceptualise Zoom Theatre as its own medium rather than as a lesser version of a stage production. Instead of being hampered by what can’t be done, I envision how we can work with the technology and elevate the overall quality of the presentation, continually learning from other creatives as I go.

This lead me to adding sound effects to my creative toolkit, initially coupled with my directorial hat with A Song for Rachel, then subsequently as an actor developing soundscapes collaboratively with the director.

I also wrote a short play as part of Alumnae’s WriteNow 2021, and directed another.

Over the course of 2021, I performed in eight full-length rehearsed Zoom plays with Alumnae. (Picasso at the Lapin Agile; Slay it With Flowers; Lost in Yonkers; the Height of the Storm; the Fighting Days; the Skin of Our Teeth; the Elephant Man; and the Death of a Salesman.) Playing John Merrick, the Elephant Man himself, and all that went into developing that character and crafting the story with the incredible director, Nicole Arends, was an absolutely unbelievable experience and easily one of the most significant of my life.

“backstage” at the Elephant Man on performance night – a lifetime highlight

I also continued to be a part of Corona Cold Reads in 10 different readings (Shakespeare in Love; When Harry Met Sally; Glass Menagerie; Angels in America: Millennium Approaches; Angels in America: Perestroika; Cyrano de Bergerac; Tartuffe; Arcadia; Mrs. Warren’s Profession; Re: Union and the CCR Reunion.)

With CCR, I fulfilled a long held dream of mine to play a role previously played by Carrie Fisher. The cherry on the proverbial icing was that it also happened to be in one of my favourite films, When Harry Met Sally. Equally thrilling was playing Hannah Pitt in both part 1 and part 2 of Angels in America.

Though, perhaps my greatest acting achievement was playing Karlow Mah in Scott Garland’s the CCR Reunion.

Corona Cold Reads’ Indie Playwright Marathon, photo courtesy My Entertainment World

With each and every CCR reading, I walked away breathless and often teary eyed by the incredible performances and how somehow I was able to be a part of it.

Most Tuesday nights, I joined Tuesdays at 9 Chicago, a weekly cold read for theatre folk to bounce around their scripts in progress. In February, I even had one of my own scripts read.

After several months of hiatus by organisers and hosts who were too busy with other things, Paul and I decided to pick up the proverbial torch to co-produce and co-host Sing for Your Supper, a monthly cold reading series in Toronto. We put on SFYS on Zoom in May, June, July and September 2021.

In February, my short play, Introducing My Crazy, was selected to be a part of the Equity Library Theater of New York Winter 2021 Virtual Play Festival. It had already been a part of two previous festivals, specifically StageWright Burlington’s Virtually Yours 2.0 and Northumberland Players Summer Shorts. A couple of months later, I was delighted to be contacted by the producer/director of the Afternoon Delight Players in Long Island, New York, who was organising a socially distanced outdoor variety show taking place in June and wanted to include Crazy on the bill. Unfortunately, COVID travel restrictions made that impossible and we had to decline.

In March, I was thrilled to be a part of Intimate Perspectives by We All Shine Productions. From the audition process to the after party, it was such a nourishing and fun experience. For the first (and only) time, I was in a live Zoom performance that made use of OBS software as well and the production team was knowledgeable about Zoom and quite a joy to work with. We even recorded a fun promo video.

In April, I participated in a staged reading of Marshmallow Sky with Under the Headstocks (in England).

In October, I did two monologues in the Ubiquitous Players‘ Monologia III.

Finally, and certainly not least, I was a part of three Virtual Community Theatre productions, artfully directed and produced by Eric Luvisotto. Specifically, I did Emily (by Michael Brown), Brave (by Jennifer Davis) and Copycat (Version 1) and (Version 2) – (by Dana Hall).

Screenshot of me in Copycat, Version 1 (Virtual Community Theatre)

Let’s see what 2022 has in store.

Happy new year!