Virtual theater barely existed before last March, but throughout the world it now provides a cultural lifeline for theater lovers. Nothing can replace live theater, but virtual theater does speak directly to a boundless audience, conveying emotions, wisdom and even humor during the pandemic.
Locally, you can watch or listen to a number of short plays and a few longer ones created by Eugene theater companies. Most are free; a few require tickets. In virtual theater, you’ll see that actors usually appear in separate frames. Clever positioning almost makes you believe they’re together in the same locale.
Very Little Theatre and its offshoot, Minority Voices Theatre, post numerous original plays by local authors on the VLT YouTube channel. You’ll see some of your favorite local actors, including Kim Donahey, Kari Welch and Bill Campbell.
Oregon Contemporary Theatre recently featured Russell Dyball in Thom Pain, a one-man show by Will Eno, ideal for virtual theater. In the spring, instead of cancelling Northwest Ten, their popular annual ten-minute play competition, OCT turned it into an enjoyable virtual event.
Radio Redux offers filmed versions of their hits, “Who’s on First” and Sunset Boulevard, plus a selection of classic radio shows from the 1940s. Actors Cabaret and The Cottage Theatre are on hiatus, but plan to return as soon as possible.
The U of O and LCC recently co-produced three Native American works directed by Theresa May. A bit farther afield you’ll find professional productions on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival website. If you make a habit of checking theater websites, you’ll be rewarded with some satisfying entertainment.
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