The evolution continues with "Ernest Maltravers," which
also is a socially distanced live stage performance but with a
slightly larger, socially distanced live audience in the Louis
Armstrong Theatre. In this performance, audience members in the
theater will also be to see on a screen how the livestream comes
together, said Katherine Mayberry, director and adjunct theater instructor.
As a melodrama, "Ernest Maltravers" has several familiar
elements, Mayberry said: High emotional stakes, cliffhanger moments at
the end of a scene and people in constant peril. Stock characters
include a damsel in distress, an "over-the-top mustache-twirling
villain" and a hero -- though Mayberry notes there is a twist in
one of those typical narratives.
"It's fun because there is no restriction on an actor to keep
things within the confines of something realistic," Mayberry said.
Mayberry is also drawing from connections that melodramas have with
silent movies and radio dramas to incorporate conventions from those
genres, such as title cards, that also will enhance the presentation
of a play with distancing restrictions.
For combat that would have normally required actors to be in close
proximity, a series of still photos will instead depict an action
sequence, "almost like frames of a comic book," Mayberry said.
"Sometimes limitations force your creativity," Mayberry added.
Those limitations have also meant appointing someone from the cast to
ensure social distancing, Bell said. Rehearsals were regularly
interrupted to allow for air handlers to recirculate air. The
performers are wearing masks that have a duck-like quality to allow
for better breathing and annunciation.