Waco theater company to share performance over Zoom

The theater company Brazos Theatre of Waco will perform an original play "This could have been done in an email" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday over the video conferencing application Zoom. Several local art organizations are turning towards video calls like this to continue to create and entertain. Photo courtesy of Brazos Theatre of Waco.

By Claire Van Zee | Reporter

Known for its murder-mystery and improv comedy productions, Brazos Theatre of Waco is shifting its productions online in order to make the most of the pandemic-caused circumstances.

“After all, the show must go on,” owner and director Beth Richards said.

Since the county-wide shelter-in-place ordinance was put into action, the company has hosted a video conference improv comedy show and trivia night, both of which Richards said were great successes.

In order to get in on the entertainment, people must purchase a “ticket” that will earn them a link to either a private Zoom meeting or access to their private Facebook page.

Their online entertainment doesn’t stop with improv and trivia. At 7:30 p.m. this upcoming Saturday, the company will present an original Zoom play via their private Facebook page.

The play was written by Michael McBrine, a frequent company performer and local playwright, and inspired by COVID-19 and the comedy that ensues from a company-wide Zoom call.

“What do you get when an eclectic group of jewelry salespeople get together for a sales meeting halfway through the quarantine?” asked the company’s Facebook promotion for the event.

McBrine’s play, “This All Could Have Been Done in an Email,” is a comedy about a group of salespeople who work in the jewelry section of a department store.

During the shutdown, the corporation calls and says they want to have a staff meeting over Zoom, just to share a few updates and some staff training.

“The story is just about all of the crazy things that go awry during the Zoom staff meeting,” Richards said.

A few weeks ago, McBrine said he felt inspired and sat down to write the production in what turned out to be one sitting. The next morning he woke up, made a few edits and sent the final draft to Richards to see what she thought.

Richards said she couldn’t have been more excited for the story.

“It’s just so unique and different,” Richards said.

The shelter-in-place ordinance has also caused other members of Waco’s art community to get creative, especially as artists are having to think outside-the-box in terms of how to continue creating revenue and art itself.

Local arts agency Creative Waco and Waco Civic Theatre have found ways to do just that.

Creative Waco has developed an online platform called “Make It In Waco” for several local artists to sell their goods. It takes away the burden of logistics that comes with creating an online store.

Waco Civic Theatre has put together a Google Drive collection of acts and performances that can be purchased and watched at home.

According to McBrine, it is situations like these that truly inspire creativity.

“Some people think they need to have everything at their disposal to be creative, but I think you really get creative when you’re kind of put into a box,” McBrine said.

McBrine said he was happy to play a part in creating at least a small portion of revenue during this time.

“It makes me feel good that I can help the theater in my own small way,” McBrine said.

There are many ways people can support the theater, including buying a ticket for one of their online events or purchasing Brazos Theatre merchandise, such as t-shirts and stickers, Richards said.

When the theater is able to resume in the future, Richards wants to make a poster with all of the names of people who contributed during the pandemic and hang it on a wall to thank them.