In April of 2020, two weeks prior to the celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday, as the Pandemic was raging, I was approached by my pal, actor/director, Gary Sloan, who asked me if I would re-create my interpretation of King Lear for a special fundraiser zoom reading in support of St. Elmo’s Episcopal Church in Bucks County, Pa.
This performance was a ninety-minute adaptation based on a version adapted by Peter Brooks for Orson Welles in 1953 for CBS's Omnibus.
Our presentation in 2020 was a rousing success.
So much so, that, given the state of the Pandemic at the time, with theaters and live performances cancelled, we decided that zoom theater was the current avenue for artists to express themselves.
Toghether with his wife, Malgosia Tomassi, they decided to form a company that could produce plays online, shown live or recorded on YouTube, free of charge, with donations going to the Actor’s Fund of America.
SKZT (stacykeachzoomtheater.com) was born, and over the course of the past 3 years, full theatrical productions have been completed and issued online, providing actors with the opportunity to express their talents, without remuneration, but with the gratification of acting in a new medium, and playing wonderful roles.
Zoom theater is a unique hybrid, combining the elements of film, live theater, documentaries, and television. Our first three productions were presented live. During these airings, we discovered that there was a myriad of technical issues related to both sound and picture. The actor must operate a scrolling script, muting and unmuting sound, turning video on and off depending on whether they are onstage or off. It is a daunting task, requiring a good deal of rehearsal to allow the actor to focus and concentrate on performance.
Hence, after the first three productions, we elected to abandon live performance and to record the actors, as with a film or television production, with multiple takes, giving us greater flexibility with editorial options. Additionally, we added still photos and videos to further enhance the experience.
Tennesse Williams’ Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, was our premiere live production, starring Juliet Mills, Karolina Keach, Maxwell Caulfield, Stacy Keach, Melissa M. Mills and Peter Jason. This was followed by Eugene O’Neill’s Hughie, starring Keach and the late Clark Middleton. Next was Yasmina Reza’s The Unexpected Man, starring Juliet Mills and Keach, followed by David Storey’s Home, starring Alfred Molina, Keach, Juliet Mills, Anna Mathias and Maxwell Caulfield. Then came Lanie Robertson’s The Gardener (a world premiere), starring Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, and Keach. This was followed by William Luce’s Barrymore,starring Keach and Brad Bellamy.
Our final production, Vienna, (another world premiere)written by Jim McGrath, explores the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, starring Harris Yulin as Freud and Keach as Jung.
Vienna will be presented on Thanksgiving Sunday, November 28th, and will last for four days until December 1st, admission free, donations to benefit The Actor’s Fund of America. www.stacykeachzoomtheater.com.
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