TheSharedScreen’s scorching new Zoom production of Tape — the 1999 play turned 2001 indie film starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman — is a successful experiment in embracing the present virtual reality of theater.  Essentially, Tape succeeds because of the basics — good writing and good acting. Together, under the superb direction of John Dapolito, these elements create a tense atmosphere that I squirmed to escape and yet was sad to leave when it ended.​

 

By adapting Tape so that Zoom is integrated into the piece from the bottom up, Davidson normalizes the format, effectively rendering the video call platform, such an encumbrance in other pandemic pieces, almost invisible. By making the format incidental to the piece, Davidson allows the keen writing and brilliant performances to shine without being upstaged by this weird new medium.

 

Dapolito hardly allows his actors to sit still physically, emotionally, or vocally. This variation — different notes hit at different times — makes for a dynamic visual tableau and compelling storytelling.

The setting is one many of us have become familiar with: Zoom... We become, therefore, involved directly in the relationship between Amy (Chelsea J. Smith), Vince (Travis Schweiger), and Jon (Neal Davidson).  It is as if we are in the call ourselves...This production is recommended for those who are interested in exploring the ways that new mediums can enhance or alter the theatrical experience. 

Mike Moreno, a NYC actor who's goal is to help actors "understand how an acting career is like running your own business" interviews Neal Davidson about his 10-month journey from pandemic lockdown to having his adaptation/production of TAPE named "Theater to Stream" by the New York Times.  Neal fits the bill for Mike's mission to help actors create their own success through  "knowledge and skills that allow actors and artists to embrace their creative entrepreneur spirit and the reality that you both run and own your own business from the moment you choose to be a professional."

With theater taking all kinds of new forms these days, TheSharedScreen Co. has discovered "dramatic betweennness" - a device that draws the audience in by having them witness a Zoom call between characters. Neal Davidson, Travis Schweiger, and Chelsea J. Smith join us to talk about working together on a production of Stephen Belber's play "Tape" - presented live as a Zoom call!

This interview with Neal Davidson published in Mixing it Up Productions' newsletter provides an in-depth look at the origins of TheSharedScreen, the discovery of the power of this new form of online theater, the challenges and opportunities it presents for artists, and its potential for changing the ways we see each other.

Going from live to virtual is a test of creativity in itself.  But when a theater piece not only manages to deliver its message in a new format, but also incorporates that new format into the play itself, AND take it to new levels, then it can make for an artistic revelation. Such is the case with Stephen Belber’s provocative 1999 drama Tape, which ... has now been adapted for the virtual format by Neal Davidson (who also stars in the play) and is directed with multi-faceted verve by John Dapolito.  

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© 2021 by Neal Davidson