Hate Covid? Love Theater? Why Aren’t You Attending Virtual Performances, Then?

It’s not just an excuse for “real theater” or “TV.”

Ilana Lydia
4 min readSep 29, 2021


B3 Theater’s production of “Frankenstein,” photo by Ilana Lydia

There’s a meme going around that has the effectiveness of people wearing masks. It shows the percentage of infected people when no one wears a mask, when one wears a mask, or when both wear masks. Then it has a pictogram of one person wearing a mask saying, “Come to my virtual show!” and the other vamoosing quickly. Percent infected? Zero.

I had an artistic partner who absolutely abhorred virtual theater. “Why aren’t the sets 180 degrees around from each other?” Because this isn’t film. And aren’t you used to one backdrop at a time in live staged productions?

“It’s not real.” And plays are? Even plays about real people are representations—usually, highly stylized representations at that.

“I have zoom fatigue.” Don’t we all? But is that any reason to skip out on your friends or demonize their solution for safe, accessible theater?

Look, no one’s saying this is an ideal situation. Given a choice, we’d be doing in-person shows with happy, healthy audiences every weekend. But in the meantime, are you really going to take your ball and go home?

It’s the same people, folx. Your friends. Your artistic partners (or formerly).

I personally have done some extraordinary shows online. It’s not zoom technically because we use the streaming platform OntheStage, but it’s close enough.

Excellent acting can happen in this medium. And she is directing. AND designs.

It has the same elements as theater. Just because there’s a camera between you and the actor doesn’t mean it’s the death of theater or real performances can’t happen.

Yes, there are real drawbacks to the technology. For example, trying to pull off a full soundscape is near impossible, thanks to zoom. Synchronized performing — as in a musical — is also damned hard. And no one likes the ghosting that happens with virtual backgrounds.

But would you abandon the art form because of the small number of things that can’t be fixed?



Ilana Lydia

A theater person/writer/reader of curiosities. A believer in wonder.