The Student Newspaper of Highline College

Burien theater returns to life via Zoom

Isabel Borchers Staff Reporter Mar 04, 2021

Burien Actors Theater (BAT) is finding new and innovative ways to perform on Zoom.

When the pandemic hit, the Burien-based company was forced to close down the theater for both the safety of the actors as well as the audience. But they were able to adapt and have been doing Zoom performances throughout the past 12 months. 

The performances are not pre-recorded and are indeed live. They are usually one hour long with a five-minute intermission.

There is no set cost for tickets. Instead they are taking donations. They accept donations between $1-$10,000. After the donation is sent, a Zoom link will be emailed to the buyer for the play.  

They have been doing auditions for the plays through Zoom as well. 

“For auditions, we use the waiting room extensively. First, we are not asking for a monologue. The actors read a part of the script with other actors. This is called reading sides,” said Eric Dickman, the artistic director. 

They call in groups of actors to read parts of a script. Once they are finished they send them back into the waiting room. 

The artistic director then chooses shows that they think will work easiest on Zoom. They want to choose plays that will be enhanced by Zoom’s abilities. 

“In each of the first two Shelter Seasons, there were five plays. So, to date, we have presented 10 plays on Zoom. We have learned quite a bit about Zoom during those 10 plays,” Dickman said.

On the day of the performance, people use the link to log into Zoom. Audience members are asked come 30 minutes early to listen to music and see slides on how to best enjoy the show. 

There are some advantages to having performances on Zoom, Dickman said. First of all, people don’t need to be there in person. This way, people aren’t required to have a babysitter or drive to the theater.

“BAT has a number of people from California and the East Coast who, while we are on Zoom, routinely come to see our work. We also have a couple from London who have made almost all of our shows. That would not be possible in a live space,” Dickman said. 

People who are hearing-impaired and who are able to read lips and may be able to understand the play better because it is easier to see the actors.

Burien Actors Theater is also working on bringing closed captioning to the Zoom performances as well as working to possibly bring it to live performances.

Although there have been some unexpected advantages, there are of course disadvantages to having performances over Zoom.

On Zoom, BAT is not able to use the intricate sets they usually build. They rarely use a background because they can be too distracting, Dickman said

“There is a certain electricity that happens in live theater. That is not available on Zoom,” he said. 

Nevertheless, Burien Actors Theater has adapted to the pandemic. Through the technological advancements they found, they will be able to improve their in-person performances as well, said Dickman

BAT’s Shelter in Place Season III begins 8 p.m. March 27 with a performance of Christoper Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.  Tickets for this and all of the company’s spring shows are available at https://v6.click4tix.com/events.php?domain=BAT

Vanya continues March 28 at 2 p.m. and April 3-4 at 8 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively. 

Next will be I and You by Lauren Gunderson, April 17 and 24 at 8 p.m. and April 18 and 25 at 2 p.m.

The Half-life of Marie Curie, also by Lauren Gunderson, will be May 8 and 15 at 8 p.m. and May 9 and 16 at 2 p.m. 

BAT closes out its virtual spring season with another work by Gunderson, The Revolutionists. Showtimes will be 8 p.m. May 29 and June 5, and 2 p.m. May 30 and June 6. 

For more information, visit BAT’s website at https://burienactorstheatre.org/