*** August 15, 22, 29 and September 5 at 7pm
Live streaming theater in the NoHo Arts District to keep the live vibe going.
“The Stay-At-Home Variety Show #Lockdown Day 157”
The Actors Forum Theatre brings you the first in a series of independent, live, virtual theatre productions. Join us on August 15, 22, 29 and September 5 at 7pm for the world premiere of “The Stay-At-Home Variety Show #Lockdown Day 157” with Brandon Scott and the Actors Forum Players.
An interactive, virtual show streaming live to theatre audiences at home. This one-man show interweaves improv, comedy magic, music, black-light illusions and virtual sketch guest artists into a fun and innovative theatrical presentation.
#Lockdown Day 157 takes place in an artist loft in NoHo. After 100 days in pandemic lockdown, and in order not to go out of his mind: a magician and improvisational actor, establishes relationships with his make-believe friends. A robot dog, Alexa, stuffed animals, a mannequins and spirits from the other side. With no sign of a date to when audiences can return to theatres in person and passionate for supporting the continuation of live theatre, he organizes a team of supporters and technicians to live stream future shows to the theatre going communities directly from the theatre. This is that show.
There will be two ways to see the show.
1.) A limited number of a few hundred guests will be able get complimentary tickets to join the show on Zoom and interactively participate, offering suggestions for improv sketches and be volunteer participants in the magic show. So sign up today to secure your virtual seat in our virtual theatre.
2.) The show will simultaneously steam live on Facebook, Youtube, Linkedin, Instagram and other platforms. You will receive links by email to all the feeds to choose your favorite after you sign up to receive your ticket. These streams will not offer interactive participation, only Zoom. Entrance for both of these ways is FREE for this one-time, world premiere of “The Stay-At-Home Variety Show.”
WHEN: August 15, 22, 29 and September 5 at 7pm
Support for this program was provided through the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Arts Development Fee Program and the Office of Councilmember Paul Krekorian.
How did you come up with your show concept?
I created the virtual production of the “Stay-At-Home Variety Show” as a survival reaction to the pandemic lockdown. An interactive virtual show, streaming live so as to keep the live theatre vibe going. There’s nothing that can replace being live with your audience. But connecting to them virtually live is a great alternative. I am grateful that we are in the 21st century and technology can bridge the gap and bring us together during these times.
With the threat of live theatre disappearing as a result of extended shutdowns, I wanted to give an opportunity to talent that would ordinarily be performing live in the theatre, a place to continue presenting their work in a platform that allowed them to see and hear their audiences. This would also offer audiences an ongoing opportunity to interact with actors. These days, it’s the new and only way to do live theatre. Also during the first weeks of the lockdown quarantine, I found myself at home working on my music, my acting, my comedy and magic. Next thing I knew I was performing for Alexa, Siri and every inanimate object around me. So I turned it into a show.
The Stay-At-Home Variety Show is a combination of my covid-inspired new comedy and magic routines and the improvisations that I did with the Actor Forum Players in our Audrey M. Singer’s Zoom Actors & Workshop. These sketches and scenes turned out to be fascinatingly intimate and funny. I wanted to share this with our theatre community. I have created many shows for theatres and for top Las Vegas venues and I have a facility to understand streaming technology. All this combined with my experimentations with state-of-the-art chroma key, offered the opportunity to create set changes live on the fly. Technical Director Nathaniel Singer and Graphic Specialist Winston Clark have been amazing in bringing their learning curve up to speed with the new streaming technologies; designing lighting for a stream and making things work across different cyber platforms. Marlan Clarke and Elizabeteh Ruch have been great minds in helping adapt our traditional theatrical concepts to a streaming audience . People may be watching on their computers or pocket devices but I hope, still feel that they are at the theatre with us when we stream live.
This is a historic era in the future of theatre. We are living in a Renaissance of a new way to connect to audiences and share our art to everyone in America and around the World. I am very excited about this and totally enjoying creating interesting, innovative and fun virtual entertainment experiences.
As a professional actor, magician and voiceover artist, I have been delivering performances and auditions online before Zoom got popular during the pandemic lockdown. I have been a member of Audrey M. Singer’s workshop at the Actors Forum Theatre. She has kept her workshop going since she founded it in 1975. As a matter of fact, the Actors Forum Theatre was one of the very first theatres in the NoHo Arts District. I joined several years ago. We do scenes and monologues, dramatic and comedic improvisations as well as musical theatre pieces. Every year we put on a show for the public which, is kind of like a theatrical variety showcase. To avoid any interruptions in the continuity of this legendary workshop, I orchestrated conducting the workshops on Zoom. When I realized that theatre goers may not be able to physically take their seats at the theatre until an undetermined future. I wanted to bring the theatre experience to them and share this opportunity with the fabulous talents that I have had the pleasure to work with.
“The Stay-At-Home Variety Show #Lockdown Day 157” is the first in series of a four-weekend run where we will be streaming shows on Saturdays at 7pm and possible matinees in the near future. I will be the only member of the Actor Forum Players that is physically at the theatre. I will be your host. I will present a segment of my one-man magic show, introducing black light theatre, musical guests and integrating virtual improv sketches with Forum Players zooming in from home. This first show will feature Forum Players, Robert Peters and Don Striebner along with surprise guests and other members of the Actors Forum Players in future shows. We are envisioning presenting original short act plays, one woman/man shows and musical artists maybe even a poetry night and more.
We are on the ride with all surviving theatres that are concerned about live theatre extinction if there is a prolonged stay-at-home continuation. I personally hope that all theatres facing this situation embrace the potentials in going virtual and hope that my show and the future shows presented by the Actors Forum Players will inspire audiences to turn off their TV for an hour and participate in a virtual live theatre experience. This will send the message out that we, as a society will not let live theatre go away. We want to be able to go back to the theatre and that those theatres will still be there. With costs of rent and insurance and upkeeps, but no tickets sold, we don’t want our theatre district to end up like Detroit after the car industry left.
Shakespeare lived his entire life in the shadow of bubonic plague. Such outbreaks did not rage on forever. With the help of strict quarantines and a change in the weather, the epidemic would slowly wane, as it did in Stratford, and life would resume its normal course.
Even so quickly may one catch the plague?
Methinks I feel this youth’s perfections
Photo by Winston Clark
How did you keep yourself occupied during the 157-Day Lockdown…not imaginary friends right?
I’ve never been busier, besides time seems different. Weekends seem to have disappeared and days blend into weeks and go by so fast. You blink and it’s another day. You’d think time would have slowed down having to stay at home seemingly with nothing to do? But it’s been the opposite.
During the lockdown I have been completing projects, attending Zoom workshops and conferences, learning new skills and software programs, writing, organizing, exercising, re-inventing myself, catching up with friends and family and enjoying not having to be on the freeways that normally suck up valuable time.
Although 99% of my pre-booked live engagements were canceled, since the lockdown I have been booked to do virtual magic shows, lectures and workshops many of them on Zoom. I have entertained at virtual corporate events, anniversaries, birthdays, camps, educational assemblies and charity events online. That said, I am looking forward to things going back to normal. Thought wouldn’t be nice If the freeways stay lean somehow.
I once heard Joseph Campbell, the great American mythologist say something along the lines that, if it wasn’t for art and artists, society would go mad.
We artists have an important role in the community especially during challenging times. We offer the counterbalance to reality which helps others experience laughter and a whole rainbow of emotions that can be soothing and healing in many ways. We offer a bit of entertainment which is a distraction from the daily sorrows. Yes, in many ways I agree with Campbell and we artists need to do this.
Is this Actors Forum first virtual show? What do you like about doing a virtual show and what do you dislike about it in comparison to a live production?
Well, first of all, nothing replaces a live audience. Sharing space with living breathing beings, connecting to them, listening to their responses, hearing them breath, their laughter, the gasps. Being with them in the same room is irreplaceable. Theatre is a two-way street, the audience contributes to the experience as much as the performer.
The way many Zoom type shows work, the audience is muted throughout the show to avoid sound interruptions.
It was a bit difficult at first to get used to not hearing reactions. You hear no applause, no laugher. What that did for me, is that it allowed me to separate my performance from needing to receive a reaction and shifted my focus to just giving. Of course, it’s also great when they are unmuted to hear their virtual applause and laughter. Doing virtual shows has inspired me and forced me to develop new effects. Effects that have specific interactions with the audience with whom, because we are in each other’s living rooms, we create a nice human social bond. Virtual shows offer the opportunity to create intimacy with my presentations since you’re face to face, close up with your audience. So they may be at home, down the street or 100 miles away but we are interacting live together and for now, it’s the closest thing to the real thing.
What is like being a magician and the world-famous Magic Castle?
I have been so lucky to have been performing at the famous Magic Castle in Hollywood home of the Academy of Magical Arts ever since I was in college. It is truly a real magical place. Many of the most talented magicians from all over the world make The Magic Castle they’re second home. This was Milt Larser’s vision when he created it, and this is exactly what it became. Every day, every week, there is new amazing magical talent. We see all styles and cultures from all over the world. It really is an academy of magical arts. I have sat and learned so much form some of the greatest minds in magic that I have met there. It’s not just a cool Victorian building. It’s an epicenter for the art of magic and the hub that continues the precious history of this form of art. Like all entertainment venues during the pandemic, The Academy of Magical Arts with over 5 theatres inside its walls, is also a theatre suffering the impact of the lockdown. But we theatres can all continue to do what we do in this virtual suspended time. There are ways to make it work while we hang in there and hopefully be sustainable for the day, we can all say, Open the house, it’s time for the show!
Have you seen any ghosts?
Yes. but that’s another story.
What do you like about working in NoHo theater?
Working in a NoHo theatre is great. The entire area is surrounded by theatres and artists of all kinds of disciplines that create a neighborhood style artistic support system. On top of that there are many supply stores nearby that make it eco-friendlier to only have to drive a few miles to get what you need. Although nowadays you can order stuff online, some props and costumes you got to see in person.
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