A South Whidbey theater company that has not had a production since the end of 2019 announced a series of short plays that will be live-streamed this month.
A virtual production is a first for OutCast Productions, a nonprofit organization that has been putting on shows for the past decade at the BlackBox Theater at the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds.
After a cancelled season in 2020, the theater is moving forward with “Pandemonium, Life During the Pandemic.”
Ned Farley, co-founder and artistic director of the theater, said the new show has 19 actors, three directors and nine playwrights, more people involved than usual for a production. Playwrights from all over the world submitted their plays to be included in the show.
All but one of the actors are from Whidbey.
OutCast Productions’ mission is to bring edgy, socially conscious theater to the community.
“We’re all living in this very surreal, once-in-a-century kind of thing, which seems to fit into the provocative theme of the theater,” Farley said, adding that the plays are a mix between funny and serious.
Plays included in the lineup are D.C. Savadge’s “COVID Hits the Hamptons,” a comedy about a wealthy couple who has to adjust to doing everything themselves when the pandemic hits; P.H. Lin’s “Long Day’s Journey,” a drama about a concerned grandmother who watches the protests of summer 2020 happen on TV and gives her granddaughter a call; and Kezia Hirsey’s “The Peoples’ Pandemic,” a series of interconnected monologues that are a combination of the humorous and weighty.
Most of the plays were filmed against the backdrop of a green screen in the BlackBox Theater. Actors from the same household were able to perform together, but many took their turns on stage one-by-one.
Live-streamed performances will be available 7:30 p.m. on March 12, 13, 19, 20 and 2 p.m. on March 14 and 21. Tickets went on sale March 5 and can be purchased at outcastproductions.net. The suggested ticket price per household is $20.
The production will also be accessible March 14-19 for “on your own time” viewing.
“I feel way more excited to figure out, even in the future, how to be creative in this virtual way,” Farley said.
The live-streamed shows are also a way to reach a wider audience. The BlackBox Theater only has capacity for 50, and in-person attendance would need to be severely limited in order to meet the latest COVID-19 guidelines for indoor entertainment venues.
“It’s an opportunity to watch across households,” he said.
About 23 percent of season ticket holders in 2020 came from off-island.
Last year was supposed to be the theater’s 10th anniversary season. Even when the season was cancelled, ticket holders opted to donate the funds from their tickets rather than ask for a refund. Farley said those tickets will be honored when the theater has its next season.
“This is the kind of community that we live in,” he said. “Our patrons are pretty loyal, both the ones that live on the island and those that don’t.”
He is hopeful OutCast Productions will have another show in May.
“We’ve been telling our patrons, we’re taking 2021 a month at a time,” Farley said. “We’re hoping to do something in the same slots that we normally do something.”