Sharp Teeth Theatre
Residency: March to April 2022
Sharp Teeth Theatre wanted to build on their experience and success of their earlier Sherlock in Homes productions for Zoom. They were interested in exploring what more could be possible using the Telepresence Stage platform, with the actors being allowed the freedom to share the same screen space scenographies, rather than being confined to their individual Zoom windows. They were therefore keen to share their final Telepresence Stage performance on Zoom, but also emphasise its liveness and include their Zoom audience in the Telepresence Stage output through live video and audio inputs as well as incorporating the chat from the Zoom audience.
“This medium feels like it wants to be more live than the way that we've been using it, so it will be really nice to look at how we can incorporate more audience interaction and improvisation into what we are doing”
For their Telepresence Stage residency, Sharp Teeth Theatre decided to rework their previous performance of Sherlock in Homes II: Murder on Ice, with two actors playing all the parts form their separate homes in London and Bristol. The Sherlock in Homes performance is an interactive murder mystery comedy, demonstrating a variety of ‘live action’ layering techniques and effects. The audience plays detectives on the 1929 International Detective Booze Cruise, invited by Captain El Sharto to solve the murder of Admiral Albert Ross in the nearby Antarctic expedition base camp.
Techniques and solutions
Sharp Teeth’s unique style of online theatre engaged directly with its live audience, allowing actors and audience members to break the ‘fourth wall’ through a highly interactive dramaturgical approach. They allowed the Zoom audience members to visually participate in scenes, appearing through portholes and windows, and from under tables. Other techniques included the effective use of silhouettes to disguise the identity of the characters as they played out possible murder scenarios.
Reflections and outcomes
Sharp Teeth Theatre brought a significant amount of experience in online theatre from their previous productions and were well aware of its potential and scope. Undertaking the Telepresence Stage residency meant they had to approach things quite differently using the vMix based solution, but they still managed to maintain the unique audience engagement aspects of their work, that has become their signature style. Whilst other resident companies have also presented their Telepresence Stage performance to Zoom audiences, Sharp Teeth were the first company to bring Zoom audience members directly into the Telepresence Stage performance.