The digital theater experience creates a one-on-one connection between audience participant and actor for an intimate real-time virtual performance
will make its Middle East premiere at The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) on April 7 at 8pm, running online for five nights until April 11. The innovative live digital theatrical experience, which has enjoyed critically acclaimed runs in New York and Chicago this year, brings together a single actor and a single audience member who will share one of five new micro-plays that resonate in the shared moment of these times.
Theatre for One was created in 2010 by Christine Jones, a Tony and Olivier Award-winning set designer, and adjunct faculty member at NYU Tisch. Originally staged in a mobile theater booth and performed in public spaces, the digital booth developed for these performances mimics that same process, using a custom designed device that allows actors, who are performing from their homes, to maintain eye contact with the audience member. This results in uniquely personal works that bring a much-needed intimacy to one-on-one online performance.
While Theatre For One: Here We Are is inspired by the pandemic, the writers have contributed works that span a spectrum of ideas and points of view. Chief among them are the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in the US, which guarantees women’s constitutional right to vote, along with Black Lives Matter, We See You WAT (White American Theater), and other movements fighting racism and injustice.
Creator and Co-Artistic Director Christine Jones commented, “Theatre for One was originally conceived as an intimate setting where an actor and audience member could encounter each other as strangers and, through the performance, form a bond through their shared experience. I could not have foreseen how vital this need for intimate engagement would become, or the ideas for the plays themselves. As we developed the digital format, the Black Lives Matter and other movements erupting around us inspired us to create a space for these voices and ideas in a setting that reflects this unique moment in history.”
Co-Artistic Director Jenny Koons added, “Millions of people around the world have felt the loss of interaction with strangers in everyday life. In this moment of heightened anxiety and disconnection, we find ourselves existing within our own bubbles. These plays, performed by some of the most exciting and engaging artists in the US, are a way to break out of our own worlds to engage and empathize with other people and, ultimately, find a way to move through this extraordinary time, together.”
Bill Bragin, Executive Artistic Director at The Arts Center at NYUAD, said, “As we continue to grapple with the closure of communal artistic spaces for more than a year, Theater for One is the perfect format for these times. The Arts Center has been spotlighting artists who use technological tools to create uniquely human connections. In these live micro-plays, with a single actor performing online for a single audience member, the emotional connection is heightened, and the transformational nature of theater takes on a distilled power. The project is all the more special because of the significant calibre of theater artists involved, including some of the theater world’s most notable figures.
“A great deal of hard work has gone into making this innovative show possible. We thank Christine Jones and Jenny Koons, along with the extraordinary cast of writers, actors, and directors, and also Marc Downie and Paul Kaiser from OpenEndedGroup, who were responsible for the platform programming and design; and executive/creative producer Mara Isaacs, founder of Octopus Theatricals.”
Theatre For One: Here We Are performances, which run from 8-9:30pm, are matched with audience members randomly when joining the show. Each online play lasts just under 10 minutes and for each ticket booked, audiences will experience one of the following performances, selected at random:
- Thank You For Coming. Take Care: by Stacey Rose, directed by Candis C. Jones, performed by Patrice Bell
- Whiterly Negotiations: by Lydia R. Diamond, directed by Tiffany Nichole Greene, performed by Nikkole Salter
- Pandemic Fight by Carmelita Tropicana: directed by Rebecca Martinez, performed by Zuleyma Guevara
- Before America Was America: by DeLanna Studi: directed by Tamilla Woodard, performed by Shyla Lefner
- What Are The Things I Need To Remember: by Lynn Nottage, directed by Tiffany Nichole Greene, performed by Eisa Davis
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