Bedside Theatre – a New Genre?

Bedside Theatre - Gilbert AZ

Yesterday, Lauren and I came together for a rehearsal at the house where I am staying whilst in Phoenix. My hostess, Micha Espinosa, has her mother staying with her, and Mary-Lou is not very well at the moment. So we asked if she would like to see our performance, a special showing in her bedroom. As it happens, her daughter-in-law Barbara, who is visiting at the moment, is also not very well, so we had an audience of two.

Thus a new genre is born – Bedside Theatre!  Our production works fine in these conditions, as we don’t require any props or settings. We work with what we find at the performance site, so every performance is site-specific.

Professional photographer Sandy Ritson is also staying at the house at the moment, and he dropped in to snap away as we performed.

I find myself consistently typing “Bedsite Theatre” instead of “Bedside Theatre”. Perhaps my fingers are trying to tell me something? I’ve be very interested to know what you think. Bedside is exactly what it is, but BedSite has a ring to it too.
Or maybe it’s just too confusing, to clever by half.
Leave a comment. Maybe I’ll set up a poll.
And don’t forget to enter our competition for 2 free tickets. They are free to the winners, but not, sadly to us. Phoenix Fringe Festival charges us $5 for every comp we give away.
Oh, another thought. If you live in, or near Phoenix, and you know somebody who is bedridden, but would like to see our production, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do. And if you would like to support such a performance by helping to cover our transport costs involved in taking the show to somebody’s bedside/site, we’d love to hear from you too.

Voice and the Mountain

Today was quite a day, in the scheme of things. I was invited to sit in on Micha Espinosa’s voice class at ASU, indeed, I was given a mat, a zafu and a ball and invited to join in, so I did. It was wonderful. Relaxing, invigorating, inspiring and revealing in equal measures.Then I was invited to lead a class. It was an honour to step in to help out, as the scheduled teacher was suffering from laryngitis.  This was an undergraduate class, first year students, still getting to grips with the basics of voice work.

Time and again, I found myself quoting June Bloom, rephrasing her words so as not to freak myself out!  The past few weeks I’ve been concentrating on promoting the narrative side of the play, June’s story, her relationship with her son, the challenge of dealing with the intrusive stranger. Today it was far more important to highlight June’s mission in life, which is to promote the value of the voice in performance, and to demonstrate by example how it contributes to the life of Shakespeare’s texts.

After lunch, Lauren picked me up and we set off to find Estrella Mountain Community College.  I was disappointed to discover that it is not actually up on the mountain, but I assume one of the mountains that form the backdrop to the college is indeed Estrella Mountain!

Our Phoenix director Angela arrived, Lauren and I changed into our cossies (that is Australian for ‘costumes’) and we did a dress run in the Plaza Gallery, the venue for our performance on Thursday. We are doing a slightly shorter version at Estrella, to fit in with the college timetable, but hopefully we shall revert to the full version for the Fringe performances.

We were pretty darned pleased with ourselves. The room is quite lovely, an octagon with a high ceiling and a fantastic acoustic. There are lots of opportunities to absolutely send the voice out ringing the rafters (metaphorically speaking – there are no actual rafters).  I’m looking forward to rediscovering our play in the company of students thinking they are attending a lecture…


Theatre Rehearsals resume, in real time

Yesterday we had our first rehearsal, together at last in real time, and in real space.

It’s hard to quantify the difference, but I’ll try. We no longer need to rush back to the computer screen when we feel the need to make a strong point to each other, or just remember that the other person can’t see us if we move too far away from the webcam. We don’t have to stop and restart Skype every time the sound or vision goes down.  We don’t have a constant whistle in the background!

Lauren and Angela

Most significant of all, is the sense of the unique human presence in the room, and the particular energy emanating from that individual presence. It has an effect, physically, on the performers – and I suspect the director also – that is just not there when working online.  This is a challenge for the emerging medium of live, online performance, if it is also to be developed and rehearsed online.  It has something to do with the very essence of live theatre.

Of course, it’s possible to compare online performance with film and tv. But in those cases, the performers were present in real time and space when they were filmed. To create performance from scratch, with only the possibility of working online is a whole new ball game, and I look forward to seeing how it evolves – preferably from the inside!