Like many things these days, the arts have had to adjust to a post-COVID-19 world. At the time of writing, B.C. is still restricting gatherings of over 50 people. Theatres are unfortunately still shut down, but that hasn’t stopped some artists from broadcasting their work.
On May 4, UVic theatre alumnus Charles Ross hosted a livestream of his popular show, One-Man Star Wars Trilogy, where he acts out the entirety of the original Star Wars trilogy in an hour and a half. The show was live-streamed on Facebook from the university’s Farquhar Auditorium in order to raise funds for the UVic COVID-19 Emergency Bursary Fund — as demand for it is exceeding the current funds. The event ended up raising $3 000, with 91 people donating.
Not only was the event a great way for a lot of people to see a popular show, but also helped raise money and awareness for students in need. One-Man Star Wars Trilogy was a free event that anyone could watch, though the video was taken down after 24 hours.
It is a little weird to see a formerly live show broadcasted in such a way. Half of the appeal of theatre is the experience of heading out and seeing something live. Watching from a crowded theatre is distinctly different compared to watching the show alone in your bedroom, especially if the show in question plays a lot to audience interaction.
There are some benefits to watching a show from the comfort of your own home. For instance, you can eat whatever you want. You can sit in your comfiest outfit. It also allows for more accessibility for people who wouldn’t have gotten a chance to see the event in question.
For other events, such as the modified online UNO Fest that Victoria’s Intrepid Theatre ran earlier this month, having the videos up for a limited amount of time ensures that the audience will still catch the shows during the festival. FOMO — ‘fear of missing out’ is still in play. Shows during UNO Fest still operate with paid admission, as patrons have the option to either pay for a week pass, which includes tickets for all eight shows, or to see one show at a specific date and time. Plus, even though the events are being live-streamed, performers can still interact with the audience, through emoticons and comments.
It’s fascinating to watch how people are adapting to the new status quo, and taking advantage of new platforms they wouldn’t have previously used. There’s a distinct contrast between the UNO Fest and One-Man Star Wars Trilogy, where the interactivity of the Trilogy was a selling point to the experience, while UNO Fest has a lot of pre-recorded shows that would have been performed in person if not for COVID-19. Artists are adapting to this new normal, providing their audiences with some much-needed levity and support.