Tips for Production
One-man shows or monodramas are a natural for livestreaming and virtual theater.
That doesn’t mean that you can sign onto Zoom or GoogleMeet and relax. Theatre directors and producers early on began to realize that virtual stages have their own demands for quality productions. Some months ago, the Virginia Stage Company began looking to single-character shows for their leap into virtual production.
One of their first productions was a monodrama by P. A. Wray, Nat’s Last Struggle, featuring Terence Afer-Anderson in the role of Nat Turner.
For producer Patrick Mullins it was one of several learning experiences.
– Do This:
1. Front light, front light, front light. We want to see the faces of your performers and panelists – not their silhouettes (unless it’s a choice).
2. Take visual risks. Just because it’s on zoom, doesn’t mean your actors just need to sit perfectly in their seats. Blocking and choreography are still helpful for interpretation of the play! Work that camera. And don’t forget that with zoom you have easy background and digital scenery options too.
3. Rehearsal and Tech are more crucial than you think. Whether FB LIve or Zoom or another platform, do a full tech rehearsal including a test stream or test audience.
4. Be SUPER clear about how folks sign up and watch the show. I’ve often been late to watch something because it wasn’t as simple to get to the right screen as I’d anticipated.
5. Be gentle on yourself. Tech issues WILL happen – sound, video, wifi, SOMETHING! That’s ok. (Remember when Sondheim’s 90th Birthday livestream on Youtube started hours late? You’re not alone)
– Not This
- Reading TO me
- Talking AT me
- Pretending to be in a theatre when you’re not
- Lacking ease or famiiarity with the technology: Practice! Practice! Practice!
Note from Patrick Mullins:
Streaming directly from Zoom to FB can be full of technical glitches. We’ve had much better success connecting a Zoom Livestream to YouTube when working through just the Zoom client. Or utilize an additional client like Open Broadcast Software. Not to sound like a YouTube ad, but your audience can easily watch it and Vimeo on their smart TV’s much easier than Facebook or Instagram live. What platform is best for you, of course, depends on your audience)
Versatility of Monologues
Monologues or monodramas are more than great audition pieces. The pandemic may have created a larger demand for them, but their versatility will outlast COVID. Combined together or with duologues or short-shorts, 10 – 20-minute monologues can create amazing dramatic evenings.
- Rediscover history with Doris Gwaltney’s A Mirror in Time or Behind Closed Doors.
- Monsters by Chris Bullard shocks us with the inner world of psychopaths and predators.
- Bertha Doesn’t Live Here Anymore by D. D. Delaney artfully reveals a predatory system of government–or does it?
Longer monologues or one-person shows can fill an evening of theatre and lend themselves to interactive dialogue with audiences following the performances. My experiences with monodramas on Zoom suggests that, even with the non-performers muted and off-camera, one gets the sense of watching with an audience. And people tend to remain afterwards for discussions of relevant topics, especially for monologues that run between 40 – 60 minutes.
- Celebrate with Daisie Dicki in Dreams of Glass by Margaret McSeveney as she pursues dreams of clairvoyance and reveals more about herself than she intended. There’s plenty to discuss here in terms of the role of women in society and the role of dreams and aspirations shaping our lives.
- Open a discussion of end-of-life issues with A Cold Day in Hell by Jan Quackenbush as Charlie explains to his children why he has decided (almost) to allow his comatose wife to die.
- Begin a dialogue about race with Nat’s Last Struggle, a monodrama about Nat Turner that views him up close and personally.
Choose from a wide variety of individual and collected monologues for one person shows.
And Coming Soon!
PTSD & Me–a one-woman monodrama by a Viet Nam vet–a woman, African-American, and gay–struggling to come to terms with the life she’s been dealt. Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when it is available.