Social-distancing won’t stop interactive theater
In Madrid, it's 1 a.m. Angel meets new guests from Miami in his apartment. In Singapore, its early morning, 6 a.m. Sabrina is staying at home and doing the same. Flights are not canceled – not delayed. Everything happens on time. The passengers are coming. The size of the room doesn't matter. Everyone is welcomed. The strangers might be quiet and tired, or talkative and ready to interact. This experience meets you as you are and where you are. Just take a ticket. It's Long Distance Affair.
The one-week online trip-performance is produced by Miami’s own Juggerknot Theater Company — you might remember meeting them at Ocean Terrace — and New York-based PopUP Theatrics. Miami is joining five other cities (Paris, Singapore, London, Madrid and NYC) to tell its own 10-minute story, which has been written by Juan C. Sanchez and directed by Tamilla Woodard. The entire process, including zoom-rehearsals, spanned about a month.
In these brief yet intimate theatrical encounters, audiences anywhere can tune in from their own homes to “visit” one city, or pick a "package" that includes three stops. The experience might be as intimate as a one-on-one with you and the actor, or you could find yourself in a tour group with up to four other strangers.
How deep can human connection be if there is no physical contact at all?
This interactive performance, made virtual, is a particularly dynamic experience. The actors have to serve as their own lighting technicians, stagehands, stage managers, costumers and technical directors. The audience is also challenged. No moment is exactly the same twice. Each person is essentially becoming another potential cast member.
“People aren't watching us while sitting among an audience of hundreds, or even dozens, all facing one direction. They are plainly visible to a maximum of five other individuals, who can all see and hear one another. And they are asked to broadcast themselves from arguably the most intimate of places, their homes," comments actress June Raven Romero. "There's a level of vulnerability and inevitable interaction that more than makes up for the absence of a traditionally shared physical space. Together, we build towards comfort throughout the piece.”
Someone across the globe is reaching out just for you
Whichever destination you select, there is legitimately an actor in that city at that very moment. No green-screen or make-believe here. All the locations are real.
"If one travels to Paris in person, they will probably visit the Montparnasse and the Eiffel Tower, but unless they have friends in Paris, they will probably never see the inside of an actual home where someone actually lives," says Ana Margineau, co-founder of PopUP Theatrics. “You can skip the tourism and get straight into someone's home, into their living room or bedroom or bathroom. The actors are performing from their own apartments. Part of the uniqueness of this trip is that you get to see their actual personal spaces and get this one-of-a-kind virtual experience."
The first edition of Long Distance Affair was born in 2011. The idea was to bring in artists from different cultures to the same (virtual) space and offer the audience an opportunity to experience an intimate encounter through a computer screen.
"We wanted to explore how deep can a human connection be if there is no physical contact at all,” continues Ana. "Since 2011, Long Distance Affair engaged over 75 artists from six continents and was performed for audiences located in New York, Mexico, Buenos Aires, Edinburgh, and Bucharest. This will be the 7th edition. So, the idea is not new, but COVID-19 lockdown made us want to bring it back."
What Long Distance Affair.
When 7 to 9 pm Saturday, May 23, through Saturday, May 30.
Tickets cost $11 to $40 via longdistanceaffair.info.
Also, 65% of all proceeds will go to the artists.