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So Far Away – Theatre From Isolation

On Wednesday 17 June at 7:30pm, Woodleigh School will present it's 'Isolation Play', 'So Far Away'.


With theatres closed for the foreseeable future, and the world in lockdown, Woodleigh School asked the questions…

How can we still create theatre in our school? 

And what might theatre, made in isolation, look like?

When we started working remotely, more and more meetings and classes were being scheduled on Zoom …and that got us thinking about whether or not it was possible to create theatre using this platform.

We thought the waiting or breakout room functions could operate as virtual wings, with students waiting there offstage. 

We thought we could cue students using the chat function or simply “admit” them into the meeting…when their scene was about to begin.

There was loads of potential. It allowed students to share screens, using virtual backgrounds/ they could create fabulous locations,…and we imagined that the final performance would be a Zoom recording of a live performance that we’d rehearse… after generating all the material for the play ahead.

Some scenes would be pre-recorded and shared on the screen, and others would be performed ‘live’.

Initially, we invited the cast to devise short scenes from their homes, and we scheduled Zoom meetings to improvise and collaborate.

But we soon discovered that Zoom had both potentials… and pitfalls.

Without the physical presence of the other actors, students found that it was difficult to bring each scene to life. 

And seeing themselves on the screen as they rehearsed or performed, also interfered with their ability to stay focused, and in role.

We waited, often up to an hour, for the recording of each rehearsal to be released from the cloud.

This delay meant that further rehearsals and re-recordings, was not always possible. 

As a consequence, there was little chance to refine or polish, so the scenes remain as sketches.

As the return to school date was announced, we made the call to bring the piece together in post-production, rather than take the time to rehearse a live performance of the play.

We felt that it was more important to maintain the integrity of the piece, creating the work only as long as the staff and students were working remotely.

And ultimately, we found ourselves creating a performance that sits somewhere between theatre and film

The technology dictated the devising process… and Zoom has became a central character in this work. 

There’s an honesty and a charm about the authentically captured moments. 

So Far Away is devised, experimental theatre, that redefines ‘school play’.

CAREY SAUNDERS
Director of Drama Director of Indigenous Education

Click here to watch 'So Far Away'