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Shakespeare in the Digital Age: How Sweet Tea Shakespeare Builds Community in a Time of Isolation

Today, as I was recording the latest Sweet Tea Shakespeare Cocktail Hour Podcast with Claire Martin, we lamented the current lack of live (in person) theatre. Our lamenting quickly turned to celebrating, however, as we realized how fortunate we are to live in the digital age: the age of Zoom, of podcasts, and of Facebook live-streams. For many artists, both amateur and professional, we have found solace in our online rehearsals. Particularly here at Sweet Tea Shakespeare, we have built and grown our online community.

As North Carolina’s stay at home went into effect, Sweet Tea Shakespeare was gearing up to begin rehearsals for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Traditionally, we begin our first rehearsal for each production with a meeting and a potluck (as one does in the south). We were saddened not to have our usual community building meet-and-greet with old and new cast members alike, but promised ourselves we’d soon be in the same room. As time went on, and it became apparent we weren’t leaving our respective homes anytime soon, we sought comfort in the community we built around a Shakespeare comedy and many Zoom calls. It became a place where we laughed, exchanged fears, and learned from one another.

As Claire and I continued to talk today, we realized we had not built just a community of comfort for ourselves, but as we engaged in this digital platform, we created a space with a level playing field. A space for creativity. A learning community where artists, teachers, designers, and technicians could gather for a common goal and learn from each other. And learn we have. We have taken our performances digital, converting full length plays into audio dramas and filmed productions. We have found ways to still engage with live audiences through live-streamed concerts and our podcast series. While nothing about the end of our 2019-2020 season was ideal, we have pushed forward and grown, I believe, as a company and as a larger community. I am grateful to have had Sweet Tea Shakespeare in my life the last several months, and hope you can say the same. If you are new to us, welcome!

Please join our community for several of our productions (digitally!) that we have coming up soon.  We hope to see you there! You can get tickets here.

 

Peace, Love, and Shakespeare,

Jessie Wise

Discourse Fellow

 

P.S. Enjoy the photo of my husband and I back when live performances were still a thing, at STS’s Macbeth!

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