Virtual connections have become a life force in these days without live performance as the pandemic is reaching its ninth month with us. What was once considered off-putting, if not cold, is now a way of entertainment and emotional connections for many. For theatergoers we have become accustomed to virtual stages to get our needed fix of theater.
Let us welcome DC-area theater company Solas Nua’s entry into creating original digital content that will be hosted on StreamYard. Following the emoji-titled “👨🏿💻😷👨🏼💻,” its latest is “a domestic show & tell gallery” with the self-aware title What’s on Your Walls? The aim of What’s on Your Walls? is to be a “gentle, interactive celebration of storytelling,” said Rex Daugherty, Solas Nua artistic director. The intent is to provide “the intimacy of sharing simple, personal stories” that “create a gentle but deeply engaging event.”
Solas Nua has been offering and creating original digital content across all of its art forms. The company has made film, poetry, music, visual art, and more available on its website, which has had regular digital content updates since March. Solas Nua’s visual art program has had two exhibits that were Solas Nua commissions.
Responding to my skeptical question about What’s on Your Walls?—“But is it theater?”— Daugherty said, “The event is theatrical because the root of theater is storytelling, and although we can’t meet for traditional theater productions, theater practitioners are all trying to reconnect to our original source.
“While the show is informal and mostly unscripted, its very essence is storytelling,” Daugherty added. “Everyone has personal stories attached to the pictures or objects we use to decorate our homes. We are all the curators of our home museum, if you will. This event acknowledges and gives space for the stories that live in all of us, and gives a stage for them to be told.”
Tẹmídayọ Amay, co-writer of What’s on Your Walls? with Daugherty and Irish playwright John King, sees the production as “a channel for storytelling. It’s the same storytelling that happens around the living room table, or in the elevator on my way back to my apartment.”
Amay is also a host for What’s on Your Wall? “I am leading the audience to reimagine their limits of a theatrical event, and expand it to include their own image.” Amay is expected to ask leading questions of the StreamYard audience to have them share their own stories so they can become active participants. But passive viewership is quite acceptable too.
Asked about the meaning of a “gentle, interactive celebration of storytelling,” Amay indicated that audiences are not expected to listen silently and then clap at its completion. “By this phrase, I mean that there is no pressure to deliver the perfect story—from start to finish—without breaking. This is us, telling each other anecdotes—based on our very real circumstances—and weaving our stories together as easily as we do every day, witnessing each other.”
When asked, “What would you like audiences to take away after being a part of What’s on Your Walls,?” Daugherty was clear that the event aims to be something audiences have never done before. “A unique, highly personalized experience, What’s on Your Walls invites you to share a story about something deeply valuable to you, and then whisks you to another home and another story” in a digital event that “allows us to teleport to various homes throughout the show.”
Daugherty went on to say, “Over the past year, we’ve covertly glimpsed into each other’s homes more than ever before: at posters and bookshelves and furniture and pets and questionable choices regarding décor. How we choose to curate our living spaces—and what governs those choices—can say a lot about our lives and the times we’re living through. There are stories in the things we hold onto, the things we surround ourselves with, the things we display. For us, while navigating the hellscape of this past year, we’ve found a lot of joy in the passing comments about everyday objects that have shown up in the background of each other’s screens, little stories that make up the fabric of our lives and reveal more than we realize.”
As the show ends, “I would like audiences to close out of Zoom, lower their laptop screens, and take another look at their home,” said Amay, then find “grace in what makes up their own home and be able to offer that grace to others.”
Solas Nua’s What’s on Your Walls? is purposed to celebrate and cherish storytelling, curiosity, and, yes, even nosiness. I’m in. What about you?
Notes from Solas Nua about how to participate
This event takes place over Zoom. There are two ways to enjoy the show, either as a museum visitor (passive observer) or a museum presenter (active participant).
1) Visitor – sign up for a “gallery visitor” ticket when checking out. Enjoy the show! You do not need to turn on your microphone or camera to participate.
2) Presenter – sign up for a “gallery presenter” ticket and be ready to show and tell with an object in your home. The object can be of great significance or a small trinket, but you should be able to talk about it for 2–3 minutes. Monetary value isn’t the point; we just want to hear a good story. Something we’d never know unless you told us. The performer may ask you a few questions about your object. You will need to turn on your camera and microphone when called upon. Presenters will receive an email with helpful tips on sharing their object.
All audience members will receive a Zoom link to view the event. The show is free but requires registration. The online format makes this show possible! We’ll be visiting homes from around the world within the one hour run time of the event.
Fresh and funny ‘👨🏾💻😷👨💻’ from Solas Nua creates a flash community review by Michael Poandl
Emoji-titled ‘👨🏾💻😷👨💻’ from Solas Nua invites online interplay