Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. Something Bad is Happening by Bradley Walton was specifically written to be performed on an online platform, and discusses the importance of honesty and communication among friends.
Four friends meet up online over summer vacation. When one walks away from their screen and doesn’t come back, the others imagine the worst. But what if the worst isn’t a horror movie but learning the truth from your friends?
Why did we publish this play?
We are in the middle of a situation no teachers has been through before with in-person productions canceled and everyone trying to figure out how to master zoom. Bradley stepped up to write something specific for the platform, and more than that, has written something character driven, conflict driven, and will find an audience after COVID-19 is in the past.
Let’s hear from the author!
1. Why did you write this play?
This was written during this past spring’s COVID-19 lockdown. The theatre world was beginning to explore scripts intended specifically for online performance, so I took a stab at writing a few things, and this was one of the results. The scenario came from brainstorming specific reasons a group of friends would be meeting online (they’re scattered around the country on family trips over summer vacation) and what kind of conflict or tension could be introduced (one of them leaves the screen and the others become worried when she doesn’t return).
2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
Honesty and open communication are important tools in maintaining a friendship.
3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
Talking heads on a computer screen. The play was designed to turn that limitation into an asset.
4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Well, we’re in relatively uncharted waters here, but I think, given the nature of the play, that there might be a temptation to not fully memorize it and read from a script just off-camera. And maybe that could work, I don’t know. But I honestly believe that to fully engage the audience, the actors need to be looking directly into their cameras the whole time.
5. Why is this play great for student performers?
The characters are very honest, down-to-earth, normal teenagers, who, I think, react in a very honest and realistic way when they are confronted by an uncertain and worrying situation.
6. Do you have any tips for those performing this play online?
Again…relatively uncharted waters…but I think actors should keep in mind that even though the audience can’t see their whole bodies, they should still be acting with their whole bodies. If you cross or uncross your legs, for example, the audience can’t see that directly, but it will shift your upper body slightly, and the audience will still pick up on it as part of the physical performance.
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