All photos by Jess Dalene

Exquisite Corpse Company presents a kaleidoscope of familiar, absurd scenes from life in self-isolation

The vacant lot on the intersection of Myrtle and Vanderbilt Avenues in Brooklyn wouldn’t normally catch my attention. A huge faded poster on the firewall says “Achtung, baby, here comes the Next Great Depression,” and underneath it a white wooden trailer covered with a blue tarp. Yet I enter through the gate in the wire mesh fence holding my breath in anticipation. This inconspicuous lot with cracked asphalt, two porta-potties, and a canopy with a couple of chairs for a vestibule is the site of Zoetrope, the first in-person live theatre show that I am seeing this year.

Zoetrope, produced…

A ghost story by the fire in the age of the virtual theatre

It requires a lot of willpower to not open a slick wooden box with a single letter “J” burned into its top.

Just a thin string separates me from the secrets of Someone Else’s House, a new virtual experience from Geffen Playhouse’s Stayhouse series. But I was instructed not to open the “haunting kit” until I am prompted to do so in the show. Lights are dimmed, curtains pulled down, and the Zoom update is installed: the spooky atmosphere is set. …

Participatory drama by Phoenix Tears Productions brings excitement to Zoom

As much as I am impressed with the technical and artistic advances of virtual theatre in the pandemic age, I’m tired of staring into my computer screen. Nothing beats a live show. I frankly thought I was done with Zoom theatre; that is, until I attended Posthumous, a remote interactive experience by Orlando-based Phoenix Tears Productions. It turns out that live-streamed performances can feel captivating, dramatic events can be gripping, and even the sickeningly familiar mechanics of Zoom can feel fresh.

Some believe that the souls of the deceased go to heaven, but, in the world of Posthumous, people have…

All photos by Hunter Canning

Bated Breath makes creative use of pandemic restrictions in a sidewalk promenade show

I haven’t been to the theatre since March. So I was excited to approach the corner of Christopher Street and 7th Ave to see my first live (non-virtual) show in Manhattan since the beginning of the pandemic, Voyeur: The Windows of Toulouse-Lautrec. Conceived and directed by Mara Lieberman and produced by the Bated Breath Theatre Company, this promenade show is a sibling to the site-specific production which ran at the bar Madame X under the title Unmaking Toulouse-Lautrec in pre-COVID times. I was worried how the intimacy of a dimly-lit cabaret, with dramatic acting and the theatrical magic of working…

Twin Alchemy’s LARP for two explores love and life-long commitment

I have already forgotten the innocent sweetness of “playing house” in kindergarten. By using tree leaves as “money” to pay for the “groceries,” “baking” sand cakes and decorating them with dandelions, and tucking “kids” to sleep under the tall elm that served as a bedroom in our imaginary house, we did everything we saw adults do and strove to recreate our own perfect nuclear family.

In some sense, The Homes We Build by Austin-based Twin Alchemy Collective invites its participants to revisit this childhood activity, only with all the cultural and experiential baggage we’ve acquired as adults. This interactive, participatory…

Coney puts Russians and Brits into a virtual hotel for a diplomatic treaty

“I wanna be in the room where it happens.”

This is a sentiment expressed by the character of Aaron Burr in the musical Hamilton but is also a desire familiar to many people. But what if there is no single room where a small group of powerful people determines the fate of the world? What if there are, in fact, many rooms in which decisions are made daily and it’s the summation of them that constitutes an outcome?

The Delegation, an interactive virtual experience by the British company Coney, looks into the power distribution of pandemic capitalism on the international…

A most intimate opera invites you to fall in love from afar

NYC’s On Site Opera has been challenging the proscenium setting, traditionally associated with this art, since 2012. The company has produced site-specific work at the Bronx Zoo, the Astor Chinese Garden Court at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, among other unexpected venues. In their new remote production of To My Distant Love, a one-on-one live telephone experience, the audience member is invited to choose their own setting. Where would you take a call from your long-distance beloved? In your favorite armchair by the window, at your desk, or maybe during a walk?

The set of short plays amplifies frustrations of the present moment

When art gets too close to real life, it becomes a bit unsettling. This was my main insight after my encounter with The Corona Variations, a phone experience produced by the Toronto-based Convergence Theatre. The piece consists of six short (about 10 minutes each) “phone plays,” delivered to one audience member, or one household, over the course of one evening, one every half an hour. In some of them, you eavesdrop on other people’s phone conversations. In others, you participate by reading from a script (which is sent in advance).

Among the assorted vignettes: the ways high school students navigate…

Sebastien “Inspector” Heins. Photo by Dasha Peregoudova

A serial phone adventure made about, and for, a single person: you

A while ago on a subway, I saw an ad for personalized children’s books that insert a child’s name into the narrative to make a kid the main character of the story he or she reads. How in tune with the times where experience design becomes increasingly personalized, I thought. But also, how cool that must feel to be the main character of a fairy tale that somebody wrote for and about you! I kind of felt like a kid reading one of those books during the week that The Ministry of Mundane Mysteries was unfolding: excited, surprised, overjoyed.


An over-the-phone adventure by Sinking Ship Creations

I often feel powerless during these days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides the passive and protective measures I take, there is not much else I can do. It feels like the entire world is standing still, anxiously waiting for what each new day will bring. Luckily, we have modern technology and ancient techniques of storytelling as well as restless creative minds to combine the two. Today, especially, I am thrilled to see immersive theatre finding new ways to connect to audiences: to entertain, to challenge, to comfort, and to empower. …

Asya Gorovits

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