University Of Idaho Presents: A Christmas Carol, Over Zoom?


Photo Credit: The Spokesman Review

These are some of the characters in the show over a Zoom call. In this photo you can really tell how much they love doing this even in these hard times.

Kaiya Kearns, Reporter

During the holidays a lot of us are used to going to shows like the Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol. For many, it is a long time tradition, which this year had to end. With Covid-19 being the main focus of the world right now, plays, recitals, and concerts are all being live-streamed or not happening at all. This makes it difficult for the actors, musicians, and dancers to do what they love, but also hard on the people to not have the holiday traditions they have kept up with for years. The University of Idaho has put on A Christmas Carol every year since the late 80s. This year is a bit different though. 

With everything happening with Covid-19 right now, the whole world seems to be down and not have a lot of motivation. I think a lot of people have noticed this in the past 9 months as well. Now that we’re in the holiday season, some people have perked up and started to become more positive. Musicians have come out with Christmas songs or albums, and a lot of companies have been live-streaming their shows. The University of Idaho Theatre Arts Department decided to live stream their show so people wouldn’t be limited to enjoying their traditions. The shows were held on December 4th, 5th, 11th, and 12th at 6 p.m. While more shows were streamed on December 5th, 6th, and 13th at 2 p.m. The shows were very reasonably priced, and it was a great idea for something to do.

You have to ask yourself though, how do the actors and directors feel? Is it harder because there is no one to laugh at the jokes? Is it frustrating because there is no one to “ooh and ahh” during the show? Are the actors sad because there is no emotion to be felt from the audience while performing? Eli Baker, a student at the University of Idaho, said that “Performing without an audience isn’t too detrimental to the experience, I would say. Doing scenes with colleagues is still engaging despite the lack of eye contact and physical presence. I was lucky to have a group of people that put a lot of care and effort into their storytelling and it made the experience as fun as could be.” This is very eye-opening because you would think it would be incredibly difficult to do what you love with only half of the participants there.

Another question did occur, which was, does this new way of performance have any super cool advantages? Is it easier? Is it not as nerve-wracking? Eli also says “The major thing to like about this new format of performance is its geographical convenience. We had actors performing from all over Idaho and even someone from Tennessee. Every show we’d open up the attendee chat room so viewers could share where they were watching the show from and we’d have audience members from all over the country.” This too makes a lot of sense. If people want to see the show and can’t make it into town, they can watch it from the comfort of their own home. “Admittedly, there isn’t as much pressure, but it’s because there are a lot less moving parts of the show, which is ironic because Zoom has a lot more potential for technical difficulties.” 

The future of this new normal has to be taken into consideration for movies and plays. Eli does a great job of explaining his view on it “While I don’t expect this to be a standard form of performance once the era of social-distancing is finally over, it will still be a new format that producers can turn to when they want a new approach to getting their company or performance out to the masses. While Zoom won’t be a new, revolutionary form of performance that changes how we approach storytelling, it does raise the question for producers about how they can increase the accessibility of their shows to people who may want to experience it without having to drive a few hundred miles.”

He has such a positive outlook on this situation, which is quite inspiring. It is new and different and like everyone else, he wants some things to go back to normal. This really goes to show that anything is possible in these strange times, and we can get through it. Our new normal is a little frustrating and annoying, but you have to make the best of it. In any situation, we face we have to try and overcome it and look at the positives just like Eli and his fellow colleagues did. This holiday season takes a look at everything good that has happened this year and celebrate it. Check out those online shows, and support what those people love to do.