Scrollytelling demo: Determined dancers, passionate singers, and zombified actors at Vic
A diseased-looking actor sinks his teeth into his colleague in the middle of a Hart House Theatre production—more accurately, in my imagined imagery of the now-closed theatre as I listen to a passionate performance by actors from the Victoria College Drama Society (VCDS).
“Screw this stupid Hart House headset, and all-immersive site-specific theatre experiences that allow for breaking the fourth wall,” grumbles the Stage Manager in the theatre’s imagined technical booth. At his command, the Lighting Technician flickers on the house lights to reveal the living dead devouring the acting crew and audiences, as screams and the groans of zombies colour the background of the play.
The play—the one I’m streaming on Spotify, rather than the play-within-the-play in which fictional stage production staff are reacting to a deadly pandemic of a different kind—is named Technical Deadication. The VCDS bills the production—released on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube in December—as a radio play that represents a “rom-com-dram-zom,” set in the technical booth of a fictionalized Hart House.
The audio production represents the innovative adaptations by Victoria College’s student societies—including Vic Chorus and Vic Dance—in the performance arts. The groups have historically delivered in-person performances in packed theatres, but are now celebrating creativity, culture, and a dedication to practiced performance in ways that keep audiences safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reflecting on the zombie-filled production, Diana Gil Hamel, Executive Co-Producer at the VCDS, recalled how the challenge of social distancing led to a burst of creativity among the production crew. “It’s been a really cool opportunity, I think, to explore new mediums and new kinds of theatre that we wouldn’t have ever done,” told The Strand.
Technical Deadication is a student-written script initially proposed to the VCDS as an in-person production last year, said Hamel. “The script really lends itself to the audio format as well,” added VCDS Executive Co-Producer Alexa Ballis. Helen Ho wrote the production’s script, which Naira Bahrami directed for online release this year.