Words by Jessica Hake
This term I co-directed a zoom play with Will Greensides. Being theatre editor and an actor in The Poorly-Written Play Festival last year meant that I already had quite a lot of excitement built up in regard to theatre when Will asked me if I wanted to get involved.
Straight from the off something was different in regard to this play. Never before had I turned up to rehearsals only wearing a jumper and big blanket. Previously, having a constant cup of tea on the go with sporadic snacking of noodles was not a common activity in an active rehearsal. The Zoom fatigue that university has established meant that I was going into rehearsals already fed up and filled with irrational annoyance. Virgin WIFI did not help this. Directing is already quite an intense and tiring process without freezing in the middle of delivering a note to a struggling actor. I was extremely lucky that Will was able to help with this by consistently creating an environment of tranquillity and productivity, with a few laughs (sometimes at my expense).
Directing on zoom for the first time was … a challenge. It put into focus just how important the nuances and idiosyncrasies of each actor really is. You can’t just rely on facial expression or voice or movement. It’s a combination of all three, something I was aware of but Zoom brought a magnifying glass to. Speaking from personal experience, if you felt as if one of those three pillars was failing you could almost overcompensate with the other two; however, when conducting a play on Zoom – this is not the case.
Four Minutes Twelve Seconds focuses on revenge porn as the subject of the play, meaning it easily lent itself to the zoom medium that was used. There seemed to be something awfully meta about creating a play completely online, about an online issue. In consideration to the recent discord surrounding rape culture, I believe that this play can act as a case study to highlight so much of societal bias and assumption. The play itself looks at the parents of a boy who is accused of posting a video of him and his (ex) girlfriend having sex online and later being accused of rape. We, the audience, never meet the accused sexual predator but we do meet Cara, the ex-girlfriend. Although only in three of the eighteen scenes, we see a clear progression of the character. The initial anger, embarrassment and shame transitions to confusion, dissociation and defence and finally, a numbing acceptance. We see the mother and father confront each other and highlight their personal bias. We see the shift from emphasis on opinion, to emphasis on fact and reconsideration of the assumed ‘norm’.
Overall, directing on Zoom didn’t fix my Zoom fatigue; however, did enable me to let the joys of Zoom enter my life. I would highly recommend getting involved with SUDS to any creative student either as an actor, director or member of the backstage team. Directing on Zoom was a fun challenge and although I’m glad that analogue life is resuming, I will always cherish the memories of turning up to rehearsals half-dressed and sipping red wine in a mug.