Performers use medium to their advantage in online performance

Ilustration of students preforming virtual comedy show
Five acts, five performances on YouTube

Performers use medium
to their advantage in
online performance

If students in Miami’s theatre department were forced to perform one play online because of the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020, it couldn’t have gotten more appropriate than “Comedy of Errors.” The College of Creative Arts launched the light-hearted Shakespearean farce, heavy on the slapstick and wordplay, on YouTube in five parts - the last in early July. After each segment went online, it was accompanied by a live Q&A chat session.

“I think it worked,” said director Gion DeFransesco, associate professor of theatre. “Because we recorded it live and in sequence, the actors really interacted with each other. I think they listened to each other better … There’s lots of jokes we could play with the medium, and we tried to do that.”

The production included about 30 students, including cast and crew, performing their scenes on Zoom, followed by final editing from DeFrancesco. They embedded in some “glitches” to accentuate the farce element and also included a live animation sequence, DeFransesco said.

“I got the feeling that many of them needed a release from the stress of the situation,” he said. “Many of them enjoyed the opportunity to escape and work on something else for a couple of hours.”