Sometimes, limitations spawn creative solutions, as it is with Heartwood Theater's Latent Theater Project - a series of play readings being streamed live to audiences each week in April, using the online sharing platform, Zoom.
Many former Heartwood actors, both local and from around the country, have eagerly joined this opportunity to perform ... in a very different setting, than on-stage. No two actors are in the same location (reading into their laptop cameras), yet they are “together” on screen. Clearly, this adds a new twist to acting, with no in-person human connection, costumes, sets, lights or a visible live audience.
“It's a different experience for the audiences, as well, and feedback has been overall very positive,” notes Heartwood's ED, Joy Braley. “It's reminiscent of Radio Theater days (and we thought the radio-theater-style performances of “Merry Christmas, George Bailey” were fun and nostalgic in December — who knew we would be here for real, in April), but with the added bonus of being able to see the actors’ faces. Like any other theater convention, once you give yourself to it, your imagination fills the gaps. The language, the words are where great theater is rooted ... and we've got that.”
The series that began April 4, with live readings of “Last Train to Nibroc” and “Creditors” drew audiences from as far afield as Serbia and Germany.
The next two titles include: a second piece by Arlene Hutton, “As It Is in Heaven” on April 15 and 18, and “Bloomsday” by Steven Dietz, on April 17 and 22.
“As It Is in Heaven” was an extremely popular production at Heartwood in 2012, performed in the atrium at Skidompha Library by an all female cast of nine, some of whom are returning in this new cast. Set in a Kentucky Shaker Community in the 1830s, Hutton peers into the complications which exist even in this "utopian" existence, in a time when things were certainly simpler. This show asks universal and timeless questions about the nature of community and leads the audience to a conclusion both satisfying and inspiring.
“Bloomsday,” a love story by Steven Dietz, was enjoyed by Heartwood 2018 audiences in the Poe Theater, and three of the four cast members are returning for this reading. Broadway World describes this script as being "...filled with sweet charm. Dietz's convention of mixing the past with the present works beautifully and - when mixed with his signature rich characters - makes for a wonderfully engaging time. It gives us a funny, touching and stark look at what it is to be in love, no matter what stage of life you're in."
“Shipwrecked!” will close out these readings in late April - a good old-fashioned piece of yarn-spinning by Pulitzer Prize winner, Donald Margulies. In this true story based on an untrue story, the adventurous Louis de Rougemont shares is amazing story of bravery, survival and celebrity that left 19th century England spellbound.
To reserve your “seat” - no admission - for these online readings, visit Heartwood’s website www.heartwoodtheater.org. No need to call or email, just follow the very simple registration instructions on the website.
As we strive to remain connected in the many ways still available to us right now, actors and audiences, alike, are appreciating these hours to share in engaging performances, together.