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.