Hello there! Welcome to this introduction to creating theatre online!
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, theatre makers and audiences have become more and more interested in live online theatre – or live video theatre, cyber drama, telematic performance, networked theatre, virtual theatre, whatever you want to call it. This might feel like a new form that sprang up in 2020, but artists have been experimenting with online performance for as long as the internet has existed. What’s new is that watching theatre on our screens at home has become much more mainstream due to the lockdowns.
I’m writing this guide from the perspective of an independent theatre maker and creative producer who has dabbled in online performance since about 2012, and who embraced the potential of the form early in the 2020 lockdowns. In my work at The Cockpit, I redesigned the Voila! Europe Theatre Festival as an online festival, and developed a Devising Online course with actor and filmmaker Steve North, which we ran three times in 2020 as part of the artist development programme Theatre Maker. With director Carrie Klewin Lawrence, I co-wrote an article for HowlRound on “Devised Experiments in Breaking Zoom.”
As well as this practical experience, I bring my own aesthetic preferences to this guide, especially around the joys and possibilities of devising new work specifically for a live online audience – versus adapting existing theatre work to Zoom, or focusing on script readings. Of course, Zoom can do that, too, but you probably don’t need a guide to inspire those projects. More on that idea in the Creative Prompts section.
This guide focuses on making live performance for Zoom. Other platforms are also available (YouTube, Facebook live, Instagram, Twitch, etc), which each have their own pros and cons, as well as specific functionality. They’re not covered in the Zoom Glossary here, but the Creative Prompts sections will be useful no matter which platform you choose to use.
Let’s get to it!
Zoom Theatre Starter Guide by Amy Clare Tasker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.