St. Petersburg’s Radio Theatre Project is back tonight, with its first “performance” in many months.
It’s virtual, of course, recorded with a three-camera setup at thestudio@620. But the 11-year format remains: Specially-prepared scripts are read, by actors in character, like an old-time radio broadcast.
Director Bonnie Agan says the group had discussed a performance, with everyone in a different room with computer cameras, but “Zoom fatigue” and other factors caused her to cross it off the list. “It just didn’t seem like it would play well, on so many levels,” she says.
Still, “I said ‘we need to have a presence, because I just don’t want people to forget about us.’” Impressed by what jazz musicians Nate Najar and Daniela Soledade were doing with the “live, no audience” camera performances, at thestudio, she and her Radio Theatre Project colleagues started putting tonight’s return together.
“We always have spooky stuff in October,” Agan says. “Tears of San Lorenzo (by J. Weintraub, adapted from a short story by Nicola Lombardi) is spooky, it’s short – because I think attention spans are limited for this kind of stuff – and it has a very small cast. So those were the main factors.”
In between the two short plays will come a tribute to the late Rich Rice, one of the group’s founding members.
“And Donald Loftus, who wrote Tonight at the Stage Door, has written several things for us. He’s from New York, and he writes these short, really wonderful plays. Everything he sends us I just go, ‘Yeah, let’s do this!’ And this is about Covid, specifically, and kindness, and how we can help each other through this. It just hit me upside the head.”
The program lasts just over half an hour; afterwards, all are invited to switch over to the RTP’s Facebook Messenger room for a social hour-slash-costume party (costumes are optional, BTW).
“I miss our audience,” Agan says. “We have such a supportive and loyal audience. I very rarely perform in them any more, so one of the things that’s been fun for me is to get out in the audience and to actually see people. And see their reactions.”
Details and tickets here.