I’m working on an educational project for Holy Cross Univeristy, which I’ll be performing this Wednesday. (Remotely, of course – I can’t easily arrange a mid-week trip to Worcester, Massachusetts, even in non-pandemic times.) It’s a two-hander that we’re actually staging, in so much as you can do these things on zoom. Rather than simply read the script into our respective laptops, we’ll be entering and exiting the scene. We’ll have sound cues. And most crucially, we’ll have props, and some semblance of a set.
For the informal zoom readings we’ve all been subsisting on this past year, we’ve evolved a convention of makeshift props from whatever we have lying around our apartments. It’s fun, insofar as you can have fun during an apocalypse; it recaptures that sense of play and make-believe from our childhood. But this presentation is far more adult, and is supposed to be far more polished; there’s background elements we refer to in the script, there’s props we’re supposed to hand-off from one actor to another. That can’t be done with just the miscellaneous bric-a-brac strewn about the house. That requires an actual design.
And that requires design elements be sent to the actors.
The first item was shipped to me thru Amazon; it’s a grey fabric background, pinned against my “dining room” wall. (My conventional bookshelf background is lovely, but not appropriate to this particular piece.) But there were maps and signs and posters that needed to be placed against this background, and prop folders and books and phones I needed. (Actual hand-held phones, with cords and the like – none of us have those anymore, do we?) That was all put together in a single care package.
And rather than ship the thing to me, my friend, who’s directing (we don’t do anything these days except projects with our friends, do we?) brought it to my apartment in person on Saturday.
That’s right – after a year of lockdown, of remote work and remote performance, I finally got to be in the same physical space with a friend of mine.
It was only for about five minutes, at the curb outside my apartment building, as she drove up and unlatched her trunk, to hand me a suitcase with various bric a brac. We both wore our masks, we maintained our social distance, but still – an actual person! Who is a friend of mine! That isn’t just another face on a zoom screen, but is right there!
It’s been a year since I could say that.
And it speaks to where we all are that, even though it’s a fun role and I’m getting paid for performing it, it’s those five minutes Saturday afternoon that I’m actually buzzing about.
I’d say more, but, y’know – got to prepare for Wednesday!