Horizon Theatre brings performance to Zoom

Itamar Moses’ play ‘Completeness’ is available on-demand via the Horizon Theatre in Atlanta, bringing a vestige of live theater to the world of the coronavirus pandemic. // Photo courtesy of Horizon Theatre

While it may be difficult for many to draw connections between the worlds of science and theatre, playwright Itamar Moses (“The Four of Us: A Play”) brings the two fields together in his play “Completeness” with stunning relevance.

The show is a delightful layering of technical concepts and human emotions providing points of interest for left and right brainers.

“Completeness,” first performed in 2011, has been brought to the currently virtual stages of Horizon Theatre for a short period of time through the Horizon at Home virtual play series.

Lisa Adler, the producing director at Horizon Theatre, argues that science and theatre, two subjects typically seen as polar opposites, have more in common that one would expect.

“They’re both creative fields,” Adler said. “They’re all about your personal creativity, whether it’s exploring human emotions or exploring [something else]. They’re different parts of your brain, but they’re still about creating, exploring, delving, creative problem solving.”

Adler has been trying throughout her time with Horizon Theatre to bring these types of shows to the theater in a way that will engage audiences throughout Atlanta.

“We do a lot of [science-related plays],” she said. “They are not big sellers usually, but I still love them. This play and others that [Moses has] produced would not necessarily be something that we could produce on our mainstage, but we can produce it in a Zoom reading.”

While most of Horizon’s shows have been performed live on Zoom, “Completeness” was pre-recorded with a live audience and a talkback with scientists from Atlanta’s STEM community.

“This play was our first Zoom reading play,” Adler said. “We were filming it right before all of the Black Lives Matter [protests] in Atlanta, and we decided not to release it, because the subject was not [related to more relevant issues]. We filmed it in Zoom, we edited it, and we decided to release it later when that was more appropriate.”

Horizon at Home has been a collection of these Zoom readings, primarily also shows that would be avoided for mainstage performances, with the key intention of bringing a live theatre experience back to quarantined audiences.

“People want to be connected to others. I think that right now, it’s very challenging, because very few people can produce,” Adler said. “People want to sit next to each other and feel the vibe of the actors onstage, although you can’t replace the liveness of knowing that it’s happening right there right now.”

Adler has tried to bring back this live element by producing shows in a regular Zoom meeting format, rather than a Webinar, so that audience members can see each other on the screen along with the actors. However, she knows that despite her best efforts, the play is still experienced from a computer screen.

“It can’t be the same,” Adler said. “Our value is in being live, so we all hope to get back to it. That doesn’t mean there might not be a form of this [that will engage audiences]. I think people that have come to [our events] have been grateful to be still connecting with [something] that’s more like theatre than film and television, and they’re grateful to be able to see actors in our community working too.”

While the live run of “Completeness” has come to an end, it is still available to watch on-demand until November 1st. Horizon also has plans for an upcoming Halloween performance, as well as winter holiday-themed productions for December.

Audiences can watch the show, learn more about Horizon’s upcoming digital season, and donate to the theatre company on their website, horizontheatre.com.

While Horizon, like most theatres around Atlanta, has been struggling during the pandemic, they are still determined to spread the joy of live performance to audiences around the country during a time when they need it more than ever.