Elektra and her sister Chrysothemis are prisoners in their own home. Their mother Kyltämnestra and her lover murdered her husband Agamemnon, when he came back from the Trojan war. Since then, things have been much out of joint in this house of Mykene. While Chrysothemis just wants to forget everything and plans to have her own, much happier family, Elektra sets all her thoughts and energy on revenge – not by her own hand, but by her brother Orest, who is absent from home. Then, news arrive that Orest died in an accident – and a stranger is at the door.
In our play, only the generation of the children appear – but they never meet face to face. They speak to each other via Zoom (or the camera at the door). In that, they are as much with the audience as with each other – able to communicate, but unable to reach out for each other. We invited the audience to leave their camera and audio on for the beginning and turned the cameras off at a certain point. We always invited them for a talk afterwards, to give the play more the feeling of a communal event than a private consummation of art.
The three small rooms, the actors played in where in little unused office rooms at our theatre, all on the same level. In a fourth room was the “command central”, where the hosts sat. Often after the play the audience asked where we are – so the actor of Orest gave a little tour with his smartphone.
What we learned: Acting via zoom is a different process than live together on stage – as they all acted directly into the camera, they did not see each other – listening to each other was essential. This was a challenge, but also a good study in awareness and concentration. The actor and actresses went through the whole text together before every show.
Technically, it all comes down to a stable internet connection. We were much safer with cable lines than with w-lan. Also lightning, a directional microphone, a better camera – all these hardware issues were to be solved. The host and co-host always had backup Smartphones and internet ready and logged into the Zoom session, should a Laptop or the smartphone at the door ever break down.
The specialities of Zoom were also tricky – what can be heard, what can’t be heard? In which direction can I still speak and be understood? How can we play music via Zoom? Apparently, Zoom chancels out a lot that does not sound like language to it – which also became very helpful, as sound and noises from other parts of the theatre were quite present to the actors at times – but never came through to the audience. For audience members who had trouble with their connection, turning off the own camera helped to stabilize the image.
Premiere 30 April 2021 | Netzbühne (webstage)
Nele Neitzke | Director
Karin Waltenberger | Stage Design
Christine Härter | Dramaturg
with Isabella Campestrini, Friedrich Eidenberger and Sofie Pint
In the story Expectation: First Snow (Erwartung: Erster Schnee) by Austrian writer Sophie Reyer, Lea struggles to overcome the death of her mother, while Hasan is plagued by the memories of his families’ dangerous journey to Austria. Their story is told parallel to each other, until they finally meet in a dangerous accident and, after this cathartic moment, grow close to each other.
At the end of our journey to turn this story into a theatre production with gaming elements, we have two unused, small rooms set up as the bedrooms of Lea and Hasan: their personal items, their PCs their books and school things lying around. There are also traces that others use Hasan’s room, too (or at least, sink and computer). The audience stays in their homes or classrooms and joins one of the rooms via Zoom’s breakout session function – they are assigned the role of classmate for Lea or football teammate for Hasan. Inside the room is “one of them” as an ally/avatar, a theatre extra with actual a lot of text and improvisation license. She (they are coincidentally all female) can be guided through the room, look at all items (and show them via camera) and interact with them.
The task is, to find out, where Hasan and Lea are and what happened to them. Because, while they are present through their room and personal traces, they themselves are absent. Employing the mechanics of an escape game, the audience has now to find a code to get to the crucial information, where Lea and Hasan could be. On the way, they can read Lea’s diary, look through Hasan’s notebook and find out about their troubles and joys. As help, distraction and increase pressure, another person, one of our actors, enters the rooms from time to time. A psychological counsellor from the youth welfare service is looking for Lea and a refugee helper wonders where Hasan is, as she is having an urgent appointment with him about his application for asylum. In the time frame of about one hour, each group should find their clues to the whereabouts of the two characters. Afterwards, both groups meet again via Zoom and tell the other respectively, whom they met and what they find out – so the connection between Hasan and Lea is mainly established in the talk afterwards.
Premiere 26 May 2021 | Netzbühne (webstage)
Susanne Schwab | Director
Nikita Narder, Elisabeth Maurer, Theresa Muhl, Nikita Narder, Sophie Netzer (students of Stefan Brandtmayr’s Stage Design course at kunst universität linz) | Stage Design
Christine Härter | Dramaturge
with Friedrich Eidenberger, Katharina Engelmann, Julia Herbrik, Sofie Pint.
What, if you do not feel like you fit into this world? If no one understands, what you are actally talking about? If everything you hear, is: You‘re strange, why can‘t you be normal, be like the other girls? Nikola feels alienated, in school as well as in her own body. That her parents surprise her with moving house, only increases her isolation. Anyone who feels and thinks the same? Not in sight. Only the internet with its unlimited possibilities seems a place to be who she wants to be, maybe event a place to meet someone like her. Even if that person might be from another planet or dimension. But what if the internet‘s promise of salvation turns out to be an illusion? And what happens to our body if we keep staying in the disembodied sphere of information?
Utopia and reality, digitality and everyday life, our own needs and other‘s expectations – Corinna Antelmann‘s text tells how it feels, not to want to comply to norms, and to long for a place, where one can feel at home.
With this production, we want to further explore the possibilities of a live online theatre, mixing stage and virtual world and working game design into our narrative.
Premiere 18 December 2021 | Netzbühne (webstage)
Karin Waltenberger | stage and costume
Christine Härter | dramaturgy
In cooperation with University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria
Mail address: Endla 3, 10122 Tallinn