Small Steps: the next step

For the past few months, as I’ve been attempting to teach theatre in a mixed in-person/remote outdoors experience, I have been working with Bike City Theatre and the UC Davis Catalyst Festival (formerly Ground and Field Festival) to rework Small Steps for a virtual production.

This culminated in performance that went up via Zoom a couple weeks ago.

It’s kinda perfect for the moment. In Act I, Skip cannot be touched – he’s on quarantine. In Act II, he’s alone traveling through space to Mars. It lines up with our social distancing, but can still allow us to escape.

In other words, you can watch this play online and instead of missing something from the experience, you get to add something.

Our tech ninjas, director, and actors took this play to the next level.

We added four additional actors, though another production wouldn’t be forced to keep this. This is partly because the medium, in its hybrid, sorta-like film way, works better with different actors playing multiple roles. This was partly because we wanted to provide more opportunities for actors.

Here are a few shots of the results:

I am forever grateful to the brilliance and energy of J.R. Yancher and Brady Brophy-Hilton, who captained this ship, as well as to Bike City Theatre. To have this play planted and grown in my hometown, well, that was quite a thing. I’ve spent years advocating for making work in the places you’re from, and this feels right square in those values.

It’s an open secret that this play is a love letter, in both the metaphorical sense and in a very real way. When you write something that costs you, the mounds of rejection can feel like wounds. And I’d finally found an enthusiastic ‘yes.’

Since the pandemic began, a few eggheads have done the clickbaity thing and produced essays poopooing virtual theatre. Y’all. It’s a form of theatre, not a replacement for “real” theatre. And as such, it has its own idiosyncrasies and aesthetic. And the best part is that you get to keep a piece of it when it’s done.


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