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Patrice Bell in Thank You For Coming Take Care by Stacey Rose
Photograph: Cherie B TayThank You For Coming, Take Care.

Theatre for One mounts free solo plays for solo audiences

The virtual series offers moving one-on-one theater experiences with live actors

By
Adam Feldman
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Have the past few months left you starved for human connection and craving a little intimate personal attention? If so, Theatre for One: Here We Are may be just the thing. In this weekly performance event each Thursday evening, actors and spectators are paired up for brief, free, one-on-one virtual encounters: solo shows for solo audiences. Originally scheduled to run through September 24, the production has now been extended through the end of October.

Theatre for One was created in 2010 by Christine Jones—best known as the Tony-winning scenic designer of shows including American Idiot and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child—and returned in multiple locations in 2015. In honor of the centennial of women's suffrage in the United States, all eight of the world-premiere playlets in this virtual edition of the series have been written, directed, and designed by BIPOC women—including two-time Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage—and all are performed by BIPOC artists. (A full lineup is below.) 

Performances of Theatre For One: Here We Are are on Thursdays at 6pm through 7:30pm EDT. To sign up for a slot, you must register in advance; reservations open on Monday mornings. Here are some quick tips to get the most out of the experience.

1. Book as early as you can
Because of the 1:1 ratio involved, very few tickets are available. Reservations begin at 10am every Monday for that week's shows, and that's when you should try to to get a virtual seat. (You can sign up here for an email reminder if you like.)

2. Be prepared
Because you will be interacting with the performer, you will need a computer with a working webcam and microphone. Find a quiet place and turn off your phone so that you can give the show your full attention. Headphones are recommended, and Google Chrome is the web browser that works best.

3. Enter the spirit of the event before the show
On the night of the performance you have been assigned, as you await your encounter with one of the actors, you will find yourself in a dark virtual waiting room with other audience members. Take the opportunity to connect with some of them, as though you were in a friendly lobby; whatever you write in the chat window will float anonymously on the screen.

4. Be a present but neutral scene partner 
Because the actors can see and hear you—and only you—your attentive participation is essential: You are effectively functioning not only as the audience but also as a scene partner. But your job in the scenes is mostly to listen, because the pieces are monologues. Resist the temptation you may feel at the start to volunteer actual information about yourself, as it may not be consistent with a character you are standing in for in the scene. 

5. Relax and enjoy
How often does a one-on-one theatrical encounter like this one come along? Soak it in. You will be assigned one of the following eight pieces; they're very different from one another, but all of them offer a rare opportunity to forge a connection in real time.

  • Patrice Bell in Stacey Rose’s Thank You For Coming, Take Care. 
  • Eisa Davis in Lynn Nottage's What Are The Things I Need To Remember
  • Zuleyma Guevara in Carmelita Tropicana’s Pandemic Fight
  • Russell G. Jones in Nikkole Salter’s Here We Are
  • Mahira Kakkar in Jaclyn Backhaus’s Thank You Letter
  • Shyla Lefner in DeLanna Studi’s Before America Was America
  • Nikkole Salter in Lydia R. Diamond’s whiterly negotiations.
  • Regina Taylor in her own Vote! (the black album)

RECOMMENDED: Our day-by-day roundup of the best theater, opera and dance to stream online 

Thank You Letter | Photograph: Cherie B Tay

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