If the CATF team found themselves lost in the woods, they wouldn’t just look for the signs to get back on the old road — they’d figure out how to blaze a new trail. We’ve all learned a lot over the past four months, enough to know that the CATF organization made the right decision to postpone the summer season. While the community has been mourning the loss, the team got to work at what they do best — being creative.
The CATF team’s ambition is to produce new American theater, to set an expanded stage to engage with writers, actors and patrons, to connect the audience with provocative ideas, and to facilitate conversations about art. The challenge now: how to create art about connectedness without being in the same room as the audience.
Even before the pandemic and shut-down, the team was already thinking about how TalkTheater would evolve for 2020. These glimpses behind the scenes have evolved into their own stream of programming alongside the plays. The inspiration: what if Talk Theater could be the new programming for the pandemic world?
CATF has always been different, more of a process than just a production. If you’ve attended past seasons, you’ve seen plays evolve night to night. By design, the season is short, just long enough to birth each new play and set it loose upon the world. Even though there will be no stage productions this year, CATF has decided to proceed with script development. The 6 writers and 3 directors were kept on contract and given the seeming luxury of a longer time frame in which to develop each play.
To maintain the same focused energy without the intense in-person interaction of writers, directors and actors leading up to opening weekend, Production Manager Trent Kugler created a remote stage kit for the actors (think green screen and sound stage in a box) to bring the teams together in a connected creative space. Not so much a virtual stage as an extended stage.
Each show will be limited to 500 audience members, with one premier and one encore performance. The basic format will open with live discussion, followed by a presentation of recorded material performed on remote stages, and end with another live discussion session. During the performance the audience will be asked to participate in fundraising, interacting with interns and staff via phone. To preserve the essential spirit of the live festival and highlight the importance of experiencing the performances in the moment, there will be no recordings available for general viewing after the events.
CATF UnMuted is scheduled for a limited run to present all 6 TalkTheater events over 3 Saturdays — July 11, 18 and 25, with two events each day. Guests should confirm the final schedules at the CATF website and pre-register for tickets online.By Staff Contributor