The National Women's Theatre Festival

The digital theatre learning curve


Let’s clear the air–no matter how many Zoom readings or prerecorded dance classes we’ve participated in, we’re all continually expanding the ways we believed theatre artists should create. This is not ideal, and it’s certainly incomparable to convening in the flesh; but as mentioned, this is a crucial time in which our community is discovering its own malleability. 

Even through overwhelming uncertainty, theatre-makers are preserving one thing: the essence of their craft and just how (in the world) they can share it.

WTF is no exception. Just like any other company continuing to produce content, we’re leaning on a virtual setup and the tech-savvy people who have the skills to operate it. Who ever could’ve guessed that alt-Skype would need to be in the toolbelt of a theatre technician?

Given the sheer size of the festival programming ahead of us, every second of content we’re releasing in July will be overseen by one of our 15 Streaming Technicians. Since every session, performance, and social hour will be hosted using the Zoom platform, the functionality of technical aspects are anything but auxiliary. In fact, they’re absolutely vital.

Providing a vehicle for over 250 hours of theatre and its teachings is a monstrous feat, but we’re doing it. And it’s also important to consider how long we’ll have to. None of us have any sort of accurate conception of the future ahead, but we have to plan for it anyway.

WTF Technical Production Manager Ali Ray–the gal coordinating all of this–speaks of the blending of traditional and novel tech in her WTF Con session Bridging the Gap to Virtual Stage Management. These kinds of hybrid roles are the lifeblood of safe theatre for the foreseeable future.

We also have to consider the massive learning curve that we’re all conquering. For the first time, the playing field has been leveled for theatre-makers of all experiences and origins. I mean, come on–if you’ve been on the hunt for a new area of professional development to hone, look no further than this link

It’s impossible to ignore the challenges posed to us. There is no quick stitching, no late-night dress rehearsal that we can spend mending our difficult circumstances. But we can do our very best to just keep creating.

I think Arts Admin Apprentice/Streaming Technician/Con Presenter Chelsea Russell puts it best: “Although I was skeptical of our ability to connect person to person over video conferencing platforms, the last few months have made it clear to me that we are still craving personal connection–even through a computer screen.” And that’s something about us that will never change.

View the full schedule for the (virtual) Women’s Theatre Festival at and buy tickets at “See” you there!

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