Siege Diaries 5/11/2020

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Coming soon to a YouTube channel near you.

Suddenly, I’m a video star.

It started with a dance-off video made by folks in the SCA’s Middle Kingdom.  So Ealdormere responded by making their own video to the tune of the Safety Dance. I  used my iPad propped against a book to film myself in medieval clothing dancing around my office and sent it off to be included.

Next were SCA heralds–similar idea, but wearing your herald’s tabard.  That one came out today.  I learned a bit more that time, and used my music stand as a tripod.  And then, a “glow-up” video, where you film yourself first in modern clothing, then cover the lens with a cloth, which is then taken off to reveal you in something completely different–in this case, once again, medieval clothing.  This time, I enlisted my husband to do the filming, which allowed me to include one of my cats.

But none of this involved actual acting.   There’s a fourth project that I can’t spill detaila about right now, but suffice it to say I had a costume, a character, and a script, based on an old TV show that Ontario residents know well–but given an SCA-based twist. I had to rely on my husband to show me a few episodes so I could understand the character I was basing the character for this project on and get in some of his key characteristics to try to generate a few laughs.  My husband again did the filming.  This was the first time I had actually acted in anything since high school.  I’m not holding out any great promise for a future acting career, but it was fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing the complete project, which probably 25 different people are working on, including the actors, script writers, people filming, people doing the editing, and even writing original music.

It makes me, once again, wonder about the future of theatre.  I’m not worried about movies–with CGI, it could be completely possible to put together virtual movies (and it’s in fact already been done).  You could certainly do the same thing with filmed theatrical performances. You can also certainly do radio plays.  But live theatre (and stand-up comedy) will be a challenge until the virus is for all intents and purposes either eradicated or completely under control and monitored via regular testing.

However, projects like this one, put together by a bunch of amateurs, may point the way to future opportunities for collaboration, even new technologies, even after we’re on the other side on the pandemic.  Humans are clever and resourceful, and theatre has been around for thousands of years–people are not suddenly going to abandon their enjoyment of it.  Will we see virtual reality plays (similar to VR concerts that already exist?)–and not just as a way to get around the restrictions caused by the pandemic, but maybe as a way to bring theatre right into the living rooms of a larger audience?

Right now, it seems a little scary to contemplate a world without live theatre–and I do think we’ll eventually get live theatre back.  But it’s actually extremely energizing to think of what new possibilities might come out of this challenging situation–and not just for theatre, but also for dance and music and the visual arts.  For the latter, I’m already seeing virtual tours of art galleries and famous buildings being posted on the Internet.  And I’ve experienced first-hand the incredible VR simulation of a Lancaster bombing run over Berlin in 1943–and it just excites me to think that maybe I’ll be able to put on a VR headset some day and to visit places I know I’ll never see first-hand.  Is the “real thing” better?  Absolutely.  But we should not let the best be the enemy of the good.  It certainly hasn’t stopped me from reviving my moribund acting career for just a few minutes.

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