Melissa Harris and Michaela Freeman will play key roles in a live-on-Zoom performance of <em>The Schoolmistress </em>for Theatre in the Country. (Special to The News)

Melissa Harris and Michaela Freeman will play key roles in a live-on-Zoom performance of The Schoolmistress for Theatre in the Country. (Special to The News)

Pair of Maple Ridge theatre pros involved in live-on-Zoom play

Melissa Harris and Michaela Freeman will take part in the performance of a 135-year-old British farce

While the laughs and gasps from a live theatre audience are in short supply these days, the show still goes on for performer, Melissa Harris, and stage manager Michaela Freeman.

The Maple Ridge-based pair will take on key roles in a live on Zoom production of The Schoolmistress by Arthur Win Pinero.

Working with Theatre in the County’s online format, TIC Online, Harris will play Peggy Hesselerigge, a student at the Volumina College for Young Woman.

Freeman will be stage managing the show, which will see costumed actors from across the Lower Mainland perform live from their individual homes for audiences watching on Zoom.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge theatre launches fall season at only 10 per cent capacity

Harris said the gig is going to be a big change from what she is used to as a theatre performer.

“The biggest challenge is not getting the feedback from the audience,” she said.

“We don’t get to hear laughter, which is kind of a bummer, especially when you’re performing a farce.”

A lack of interaction with her fellow performers will also be different.

“My eyes are forced to stare at a tiny dot on my screen as opposed to someone else’s eyes, so it’s difficult working that way but we’re making it work.”

Screen acting would probably be the closest comparison, the Maple Ridge born-and-raised actress noted.

“I get to be very big and noisy with my emotions when I’m on stage, but if I’m acting for the camera, or in this case acting for the screen on Zoom, I have to limit my movements, to what is seen by the audience on their screens.

“It’s a lot more hand acting , and reliance on facial expression than I’m used to.”

It should still be a blast playing Peggy in the humorous play which was first performed in 1886, she said.

“She’s very mischievous in a good-natured way,” Harris explained. “She’s plotting and scheming, but all with good intentions and very light hearted.”

The local stage manager will have her hands full.

Artistic manager, Reg Parks said Freeman’s job will involve scheduling, making notes on actor movements and performer care.

“There will also be some unique jobs like providing Zoom tech support, helping actors digitally annotate their scripts and coming to the rescue by being ready to read any characters lines if their internet goes down during a performance,” he added.

The performance will run Friday and Saturday (March 12-13).

More information and tickets are available at theatreinthecountry.com.


Is there more to the story? Email: ronan.p.odoherty@blackpress.ca

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