Hello, outcasts and underdogs —
Welcome to the final week of BOYCOTT ESTHER! If you haven’t seen it yet (first of all — reserve fast!), the show is unique in that a vast majority of the action is focused in the bedroom of the title character Esther, as she engages with the fast-paced social media-scape. That means, for that vast majority, Alison Ormsby (Esther) — in a “stunning, pitch-perfect performance” according to The Inquirer — is the only actor on stage!
I asked Alison a few questions for our closing week (actually, in the style of ESTHER’s digital world, I emailed them to her). Here’s what she had to say.
This isn't your first Azuka show. Azuka is very locally-focused. What are some of your favorite spots in Philly and why?
So many so many. There is a special place in my heart for the Ritz theaters and they are my coziest love provoking spots. I love Studio 34 for its movements toward inclusion and workshops. I love every space that has outdoor elements! I feel I’m in a special position because I also went to college in Center City, so there are many little spots that have emotional memories for me!
We like to celebrate the OutCATS and UnderDOGS of the Azuka family. Do you have any pets?
Not living with me currently, but I have several four legged friends in my life!!
Now to ESTHER. Movements like #MeToo, and a life like Esther’s, would be impossible without social media. What do you think are the most significant ways in which social media has changed the way you live your life, and interacted with politics and social movements?
I try to view social media as a tool to better connect to my immediate environment. There was definitely a time when I used its power to escape, but I feel it works its magic best when it helps connect me to where I really am! I’ve been able to find community events (political and non) through social media that I wouldn’t have known of otherwise. Also—It’s allowed me to follow complete strangers who I think have really valuable insight, which is a gift.
And because of that social media in the show, the stage is surrounded by screens, which you’re interacting with. In what ways do you think technology has and will continue to impact theatre, and how communication is represented on stage?
I think something great about technology is that it has mass marketing abilities. Promoting a show online can be a creative way to include others in the conversation about themes or ideas before they even see the content! I think it also allows for a platform for a group to digest work collectively. Something a few of us in the cast were talking about backstage the other night was the delicious possibility of pre-show! The avenues for including the audience in the experience can be so sensory—they could be watching a movie clip or listening to podcasts or tasting something that gets them into the right mindset for their next moments in the dark. Technology definitely helps with opening the doors to that sort of exploration.
On stage, we have so many unique opportunities to share secrets. That excites me a lot. The audience has an opportunity to access a level of the character that the character might not even know about! Secret communication is something I find really exciting.
If you could update and act in any older play, but add modern technology -- what would you choose and how would you update it?
I have a few production dreams about Tennessee Williams’ Cat On A Hot Tin Roof which include a remote control car and Brick as an actual Brick. Would love some tech in there. Maybe Maggie has a web series?! Options!
Please let me know when that is in production (let us all know.) Thanks so much for taking the time, Alison! Readers, how has social media impacted your life? And how do you see evolving technology changing the worlds of the theatre you see?
BOYCOTT ESTHER must close THIS SUNDAY the 19th. We hope to see you there!