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Crazy Pets, Crying Children, Wifi Lagging? – Tips for a Zoom Reading or Performance

By Samara Finkle

Features

Are you working on a Zoom Reading or Performance? Here are some tips!

Zoom.  A year ago, we barely used the platform. Now it’s something many of us use every day. Merete Muenter (a Director and Choreographer), Kat West, and Veronica Aglow (both Production Stage Managers) have all had to learn how to do their jobs on this platform.  We got to speak with them and get their tips on making a Zoom reading or performance shine!

Being prepared:  

The preparation phase is similar to how you would prepare for any live show or rehearsal, you send out the schedule and the daily call sheet. 

Guides: One thing Kat and Veronica do is send all the actors a “how-to” guide for Zoom.  It goes over basic things such as turning on and off your camera and then getting more technical and talking about different sound output options.

Pre-meeting: Kat will often do a pre-meeting with the actors she’s working with to make notes about their setups and know whether there are things she needs to be aware of before the reading begins. Some examples of that are: if they have pets,  children, their own wifi, and if they have a separate mic or are using their device’s internal microphone. 

Time Zones: We are all in different parts of the world right now, be sure to be conscious of time zones, for example, 4 pm here (EST) is 9 pm in Italy.

Key Things to be Aware of:

Energy: Merete mentioned the energy on virtual readings/performances being different because when you are in a room with other creative people you feed off that energy, whereas when you are at home there are distractions all around you.

Technical Difficulties: We’ve all been there – a cat walking in the frame, your wifi going down, your video freezing (note: just because your video freezes doesn’t mean it freezes on the other end), and computer notifications… those are just a few of them. It’s important to be able to roll with those things because they happen!

Zoom Fatigue: It’s real! Be conscious of that and make sure you don’t go past 3 hours a day without a break. There has actually been a ton of research on Zoom Fatigue.

We could’ve talked about Zoom stories and tips for hours but the main thing is it’s important to be flexible and it will get easier over time. Zoom has gone through many updates since March 2020 and all of these updates have helped with making these readings and performances easier.

On another note:

It wouldn’t be Women’s History Month if we didn’t take a moment to talk to these three powerful women about their experiences working in the industry with being a woman. Kat, Merete, and Veronica have all been subjected to toxic behavior in the industry and have noted that things that were said to them years ago are just not okay. They’d all love to see more women at the table in the future!

Where can you find these ladies?

Veronica is an Assistant Stage Manager on Escaton, a virtual performance/nightclub all done over Zoom on Saturdays at 10 pm – get your tickets here.

Kat has been freelancing with Two River Theater and Atlantic Theatre Company on zoom projects during this shutdown and was the Production Stage Manager on Jersey Boys prior to the shutdown and they are planning to come back strong when Broadway and Off-Broadway reopens!

Merete is a Co-Artistic Director for the Jazz Choreography Enterprises and is working with them for the JCE Jazz Dance Project all done on Zoom. Tune into the performances on 4/24 & 4/25, more info here.


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