“In Love and Warcraft” cast members James Mercer, Cassandra Hunter, Hernàn Angulo, Madeline Isabel Yagle, Wesley Guimarães and Evangeline Edwards communicate over Zoom. (Courtesy Photo / Perseverance Theatre)

“In Love and Warcraft” cast members James Mercer, Cassandra Hunter, Hernàn Angulo, Madeline Isabel Yagle, Wesley Guimarães and Evangeline Edwards communicate over Zoom. (Courtesy Photo / Perseverance Theatre)

Treading the motherboards: Technology allows the show to go on

Upcoming livestreams bring Alaska theater, sense of community to your living room.

Live-tweeting and online watch parties may be old hat where prestige dramas, sporting events and award shows are concerned. But now, the ability to digitally react in real time and the sense of community that comes with it will be part of the Alaska theater experience.

“In Love and Warcraft,” a joint production from Juneau’s Perseverance Theatre and the San Francisco-based American Conservatory Theater, will be a live video production shown over Zoom. The pandemic restriction-friendly medium comes with a chat function that allows people watching the show to share thoughts, root for characters and otherwise communicate.

“I love the comments,” said director Peter J. Kuo, Associate Conservatory for ACT, who also helmed ACT’s previous live video production of the play. “You’re hoping that first audience member that comments invites that conversation. What I found in both of the original performances is there wasn’t a lot of criticism in what they were watching, there was engagement.”

[Theater reveals first show of the season]

“In Love and Warcraft,” by Madhuri Shekar, tells the story of Evie, a college senior and self-described gamer girl, who writes love letters for people as a side hustle and unexpectedly finds herself in her own in-real-life romantic entanglement that creates conflict between real-life and online personas.

“In Love and Warcraft” a joint production from Perseverance Theatre and the American Conservatory Theater will be livestreamed in a series of shows Sept. 4-12 and available on demand Sept. 18-25

“In Love and Warcraft” a joint production from Perseverance Theatre and the American Conservatory Theater will be livestreamed in a series of shows Sept. 4-12 and available on demand Sept. 18-25

Kuo and James Mercer, who plays online paramour Ryan, said the existence of competing love interests naturally lends itself to some faction-building, and what they described should be familiar to anyone who remembers Team Jacob T-shirts.

“I hid the chat function [while performing], but I read it after and laughed,” Mercer said in a video interview. “The thing that got me is that there was a Team Ryan vs. Team Raul. I couldn’t believe the was a battle going on with it.”

Mercer said the play’s video game-intensive subject matter also lends itself well to the live video medium.

“To have it turn into this digital thing, it was kind of perfect,” Mercer said. “It was like it was written in the stars before this happened.”

While the show does feature a snippet of game footage to animate a scene, Kuo and Mercer said a deep familiarity with either “Warcraft” in particular or video games is not necessary to grasp the shows larger themes, such as how identity is formed in young adulthood and the way social pressures and perception shape sexuality and relationships.

“I think that entertainment is also education, and I think this show really talks a lot about relationships and people’s identity,” Mercer said. “This show really explores those topics when you’re coming of age and you’re a young adult.”

Actors in “In Love and Warcraft” — aside from two who live together — will perform from separate locations, Kuo and Mercer said, and some tricks are used to create the illusion that characters are sharing space.

“For many folks who have been social distancing for a very long time now, what we’re missing and yearning for is contact,” Kuo said. “We play enough visual and camera and mind tricks that if you’re ready to engage and let your imagination run wild, you have a sense of gathering.”

Mercer said live video theater comes with some challenges for performers, such as managing sightlines for a camera, and Kuo said that there is a slight learning curve for audience members as well. Kuo recommended people join the livestream early to make sure their connection is working or to adjust screens as necessary.

[Stage is set for new efforts]

Despite some challenges innate to the form, both Mercer and Kuo said there are many positives, including removing barriers that may prevent people from otherwise seeing live theater. Anyone with an internet connection can buy a ticket and watch the Sept. 4-12 livestreams.

“There’s so much hope for it to be able to reach audiences who live theater hasn’t reached in a long time,” Kuo said.

It also allows live theater to take place before an audience without intensive precautions to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19, and Kuo said there is inherent suspense to anything happening live.

Perseverance Theatre’s artistic director Leslie Ishii also spoke to the virtues of live storytelling in a statement.

“Stories performed live and witnessed together help us to process life,” Ishii said. “Providing the opportunity to continue to connect to live storytelling is so needed during this pandemic.”

However, people interested in the play but unable to catch one of the livestreams will still be able to watch the production of “In Love and Warcraft” at their leisure. From Sept. 18 to Sept. 25, the play will be available in an on-demand basis.

However people take in the show, Mercer recommends people who do decide to stream the play to go into the experience with open minds and enjoy the experience of live video theater.

“I would really encourage people to go into this without any expectations,” Mercer said. “Be willing to go on a ride. Be willing to be surprised, because we were surprised while we were making it by what we could do.”

Know & Go

What: “In love and Warcraft”

When: 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 4; 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5; 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 11; 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12; and on-demand shows will be available Sept. 18-25.

Where: The show will be livestreamed over Zoom.

Admission: Single-ticket admission costs $15-$20. Tickets are being sold through ACT and can be found through https://www.ptalaska.org/in-love-and-warcraft/. Additionally, tickets to the livestream are part of various Perseverance Everywhere packages. Cost of membership in the livestreaming platform ranges from $8 per month to $20 per month depending on the membership level.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for t​​he Week of Oct. 1

Here’s what to expect this week.

This image from House Television shows Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., the Speaker Pro Tempore, presiding as the House passes a 45-day funding bill on Saturday at the Capitol in Washington. The House vote was 335-91. The measure now goes to the Senate, which also is meeting Saturday. (House Television via AP)
Government shutdown averted with little time to spare as Biden signs funding before midnight

Murkowski, Sullivan both vote for bill; Peltola abstains due to husband’s death, but voices support.

This is a photo taken at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in July. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Forest Service, Tlingit and Haida to co-steward Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area

Tribe dedicated to “protection of the historic and cultural resources in the area,” president says.

Retiring Deputy Chief David Campbell, left, and City and Borough of Juneau Manager Rorie Watt, right, smile for a photo Friday afternoon during a ceremony held at the Juneau Police Station. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Juneau’s deputy and interim police chief retires after 28 years

David Campbell honored for his service during a ceremony Friday afternoon.

Violinist/vocalist Chelsey Green, seen here with her Green Project ensemble in 2022, is scheduled to perform Oct. 4 and 5 during the Juneau Jazz and Classics Fall Music Festival. (Photo courtesy of Chelsey Green)
This fall’s Juneau Jazz and Classics offers the world on a string

Cellos and violins will be playing rock, folk, baroque, fusion and traditional at five-day festival.

(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Police investigate ‘random’ drive-by pellet gun attack downtown

A person in a white SUV reportedly shot at two women Wednesday night.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Derek Bos of Colorado smiles for a photo Thursday evening outside of City Hall. Bos is one of two finalists seeking the chief position at the Juneau Police Department. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Chief finalist says building trust in schools and faith-based communities a priority

He addresses past controversial arrests of two school district administrators in Colorado.

Most Read