We were halfway through planned rehearsals for Bill’s project for Spring 2020, adapting and directing Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People in Belfast, ME, when production was brought to a standstill on March 12th. We adjusted – along with the rest of the theater world – to the onset in earnest of the pandemic.
After two weeks of mourning (and sleep), we picked ourselves up and recorded a reading of our work to that point via Zoom. We took this leap as much for company members’ closure as for the original purpose of the production: getting people to talk about issues in the play that parallel our public issues today, 140 years after it was written.
Recording sessions took place over four weeks, and under challenging circumstances. For one thing, bandwidth and thus our sound and video quality both dropped greatly as the evenings wore on, doubtless from more and more self-isolating people going online to stream movies. Two of our cast members were getting online from way out on their rural farmsteads. Some of the cast only had cell phones to join sessions with. And like that.
So while the technical finish was not exactly broadcast-ready, the performance work we had done through the mid-point of planned rehearsals did show through, and brought the play to life for the company and our local theater community. Produced by the recently re-branded Midcoast Theater Company, Belfast, Maine – Jason Bannister, Artistic Director.