starring Haley Bishop, Radina Drandova, Jemma Moore, Caroline Ward
written by Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, Jed Shepherd
directed by Rob Savage
by Walter Chaw I've spoken in front of audiences large and intimate. I've hosted discussions in opera houses, stadiums, and gymnasiums, as well as seminars in classrooms and private homes. When the pandemic hit and I suddenly found whatever teaching or speaking opportunities I was still being offered relegated to "Zoom" meetings, for the first time speaking in public as a professional, I knew anxiety and fear. There's something about it. Is it that everyone is a foot away from your face? I hosted a discussion group recently that had over 100 attendees. On Zoom, that means there are pages and pages of participants you can scroll through as you're talking, and it means that every time someone so much as moves, you're distracted by it. Thrown. Unsettled. Of all the things I didn't anticipate about this odd period in our time together, it's this new horror of engagement. Zoom, the fractured screen it represents, reminds me of that scene in Playtime where M. Hulot visits an old war buddy in an apartment building where an entire wall is made of glass. It's uncanny, wrong, unnatural in a constructed way. It feels like a vivarium, like that old "Twilight Zone" where an astronaut realizes when a wall falls away in his house that he's on display in an alien zoo. I'm afraid to look, because I see more than the subject can see. I'm afraid because I know they see more than I can see, too. I'm afraid because, in these things, I'm having an intimate, face-to-face conversation with dozens of people I can't all see, much less respond to. Zoom is a vampire, and I am drained.