Interview: Big Telly Theatre's Zoe Seaton: "We want to draw you into our world but also let us step into yours a little"
Hot on the heels of Creation and Big Telly Theatres virtual, interactive production of The Tempest, Big Telly is bringing its game-theatre experience online with a new production: Operation Elsewhere.
Big Telly's artistic director Zoe Seaton talks about creativity, inventiveness and performance during the lockdown.
Operation Elsewhere is described as being 'a new and extraordinary online theatrical experience’ - how does it work?
Like The Tempest, the audience joins a zoom call… Technically, it is complicated, although each actor is running their own tech – most of them are using more than one device, a number of locations and a myriad of props/lighting/effects.
The real magic, however, is happening in Lurgan, where our brilliant stage manager, Sinead Owens is vision mixing the whole show, sharing screens, muting and spotlighting audience and actors – finding an actor amongst 60 thumbnail images and spotlighting them on cue is an art.
The biggest challenge is something we can’t control – i.e. the unpredictability of the internet. If your bandwidth becomes unstable, Zoom can kick you out the room mid-scene, which one actor described as ‘like being an astronaut cut off from the space station….’.
Luckily, we have unbelievably resourceful actors who can improvise and cover and recover…
And the audience is involved in the story. They can see each other and react and join together.
The piece marries ancient Irish myths with theatre produced using digital and virtual technology - what makes old and new forms work so well together?
Many of our productions borrow from old stories, myths and legends. We want to keep our work grounded culturally and share that in unusual ways.
So we’ve always played with traditional stories and ways to subvert them for an audience without losing their authenticity and integrity. So, I think for us, it’s natural to pair the ancient with the future and explore that.
The ancient stories, like Tir na N’Og, which Operation Elsewhere is based on have so much resonance with our lives now. They are timeless - they illustrate the human condition, frailties, beliefs, loyalties, that doesn’t change.