A play that speaks eloquently and vividly to our current situation is Henrik Ibsen’s Enemy of the People. First produced nearly 140 years ago, the play takes place in a community faced with an apparently irresolvable dilemma: the citizens must make a choice between health and wealth. The town relies for its prosperity on visitors to its health resort and spa. When the bathing establishment’s chief medical officer discovers that the waters are polluted and dangerous, he hastens to inform the citizens. To his surprise, his revelations are met with denial, hostility, accusations of incompetence and fraud, removal from his position, the ostracizing of himself and his family and finally with violence. The principal leader of the opposition is the Mayor of the town – the doctor’s own brother. The play was performed on Broadway in 1977 in a masterful translation by Arthur Miller.
Much of the action of the original three-hour production occurs at a town meeting.
Newly-formed ISOLATION THEATER, created in reaction to the enforced suspension of live performance, has conceptualized a unique and innovative format: in a new adaptation, the action is condensed to a forty-minute Zoom meeting. Audience members may witness the play – and participate in the increasingly urgent disputes – by tuning in from the safety of a remote location.
Enemies of the People 2020 tackles the very questions facing us today, presenting many sides of the conflict between suspension of business as usual in order to contain a malignant threat, and the maintenance of a stable economy. ISOLATION THEATRE provides the opportunity for students of all ages to consider and debate among themselves the most pressing issues of the time.
Isolation Theatre was founded to provide a form of live theatre in a pandemic era. We seek to provide more than a low-fidelity movie performed live. We want to recreate as much as possible the danger and excitement of live performance.
For us, it is essential the audience can see each other, as you can in a theatre. You have to be able to change your perspective on the actors: sometimes focusing on the speaker, sometimes taking a wide view of the stage, sometimes gauging the reactions of the other audience members.
So our performances take place in a Zoom Meeting, where the audience appears on screen with the actors, at least for part of the performance. For this reason, the audience size is limited to 90 people, and rather than selling individual seats, we sell whole shows to groups.
You bring your group to our Zoom meeting. There can be time for pre and post show socializing, or educational preparation and analysis.
We are targeting our shows to schools, colleges, PTA’s, political and other groups. We can be a virtual assembly in a school setting, or provide the core of a lesson, taken remotely but with contemporaneous engagement. We can provide an interesting setting for a virtual meeting or social event for a club or society.
Thebes is on lockdown due to a plague whose origin is unknown. The King’s brother-in-law reports into his nightly Zoom session with expert advice. Oedipus trusts his gut.
“I cannot thank you enough for inviting us. It was an amazing experience for me. Truly amazing.”
“Thank you so much for including us in last evening’s amazing performance it far outdid our expectations. The acting was fantastic - we were gripped the whole way through.”
“I expect once lockdown is all over this will be one of things we remember long after we’ve forgotten the daily walks and too much TV.”
“Overall it was a great way to have a simultaneous social interaction with others across a large geographical area, and could be something with application beyond the current time of isolating at home.”
“The chorus was an element which really worked. I loved the fact that part of the chorus was from Scotland and the other part from the US, but all were from Thebes.”
“I have a fairly severe hearing problem, which limits my enjoyment of live theatre. But the conventions of Zoom Theatre let me follow the play flawlessly: I was in a quiet environment and the actors were all speaking directly to me, so I got to lip-read.”
“Fantastic. Thought provoking way to participate in live theater. Wonderfully translated script.”
“This small cast did a phenomenal job of telling this classic story in a new way. It was a great way to get a small theatre fix during quarantine.”
“Impressive! I was astounded by the ability to create tension and drama over a digital interface that felt comparable to an in person show. Props to the cast and directors. This was my first Zoom theater experience, but if this is any indication of how well this can be executed, it absolutely won't be my last! Bravo.”