Our journey began early in 2020. With the pandemic in full bloom and all of us stuck at home, Ann Noble offered an online solo storytelling class through Berg Studios. Under Ann's guidance, a small group of artists began work on our solo pieces together via ZOOM.
At first, the transition to the virtual space felt strange and uncomfortable. But as we dove in, we discovered an intimacy here. A connection that is not, in fact, VIRTUAL at all. Digital, yes, but very REAL. Interacting with each other full-faced in closeup, with the safety offered by virtual distance, created a unique possibility for intimate storytelling. We also discovered a freedom and sense of play in the ZOOM box. Even better, this digital sandbox welcomes all participants. There are no barriers of cost to playing here.
In April/May 2022, the Unmuted Participants presented our first online storytelling festival. The entire UP slate of programs will appear digitally at Edinburgh Fringe 2022 from August 5-29.
A Note from Artistic Director Ann Noble
Solo Performance can be one of the most rewarding—as well as challenging—experiences for anyone. The working actor does not usually have the experience or time to dedicate to it, the working writer does not usually have the performance skills to attempt it, and, for the person who merely wants their story to be heard, it seems far too daunting to even begin…
I created this workshop because I know all these fears. I also see people, both artists and non-artists (if that’s even a real thing) alike, struggle with the conflicting pressures of this world. There has never been more pressure to be a “content creator” and “connect” with people, but, at the same time, we have never been more isolated. We all find ourselves frequently quite alone, especially when attempting something as massive as “telling my story”. And, while Solo Performance is indeed a solitary endeavor, it is my belief that it cannot be done by yourself. It still requires a community for it to truly soar, to truly land in people’s hearts.
I also am convinced that “necessity is the mother of invention”; this pandemic forced all of us who were used to performing in or writing for live theatre, into these little digital frames with canned sound and strange views of our living situations… What could possibly happen in that Zoom box that could compare to the theatre? Well, it turns out, a lot.
This gaggle of storytellers has created something stunning, something unique, something quite, quite new in the world of theatre. What began as simple play, simple practice, has transformed into a kind of personal storytelling that transmits more than pixels: this exploration into the depths of one human being’s encounter with our increasingly nonsensical world has the power to unshackle the chains of our current alienation, if even for just an hour. Or two. I believe this is only the beginning…