Its been a full year since the SARS-COVID 2 pandemic interrupted a previous normal. The pandemic had awaken many flaws and weaknesses in how we as a collective have done things. The issue that I am addressing here has been well known in the performing arts world for a long time… Accessibility. Accessibility for both performers, aspiring producers and even those who are disabled or at a financial disadvantage.
Many venues over the last 20 years have been put to the goliath task of adapting to accommodate. Even cinemas and movie houses have offering showing for those on the Autism Spectrum and those who are audibly disabled through the use of Closed Caption subtitles. Theatres and venues can add ramps, lifts and space out some seating areas to account for wheelchairs but they cannot easily adapt to the psychobiological needs – Sight & Sound, or lack there of. Zoom offers Closed Captioning, this is something that is absent from live performances.
While some theatre companies may have American Sign Language on staff, American Sign Language is not Universal as written English is. I am not 100% on this statement I am about to make, but it sounds reasonable to believe that Zoom across the globe has Closed Caption that can be translated across the language spectrum. If Zoom can’t, there ae software available that can.
Zoom offers another advantage to help the disabled, you can ZOOM/magnify and adjust the resolution on your computer screen. There are technologies available for the blind, dyslexic and those with other vision ailments that can be programmed into personal computers that allow the user to magnify their computer screens.
Zoom Shows Are Economically Accessible
Theatre and live entertainment has always been for the financially well off. It’s always been this way and always will be. Theatres are expensive, productions come with cost and as with every business practice – costs are always passed on to the consumer. While I do enjoy performing for the Upper Middle / Upper Financial class of the population it has always bugged me that theatre is so exclusive to the very people that would benefit the most from it. Especially magic performances. Harry Houdini once said: ” In certain circumstances, magic not only amazes and amuze but it awakens a sense of hope that the impossible is possible.” We go to the theatre and the cinema to escape. We may come out laughing, we may come out thinking differently about things, we may come out enlightened, educated, motivated, etc but the biggest draw people have to live entertainment is escapism. Virtual entertainment is cost effective on both the production and the consumption side. Everyone has a computer.
IS LIVE THEATRE / ENTERTAINMENT DEAD?
I’m sure this question was asked during the Bubonic Plague, the Fire of London, World War 1, The Influenza of 1918, The Great Depression, World War 2, The Recession of the 1970’s, the Great Recession of 2008 and it’s being asked now. Because this question gets asked every time there is a calamity – one will reason that the answer is a sounding NO! Each catastrophe resulted in theatre adapting, changing policies and practices. Theatre and Live Entertainment will be here- but with Zoom it has been given a new opportunity and should take full advantage of.