Welcome to Virtual Arts
Welcome to Virtual Arts. We are a theater company that lives on the internet. Currently we are presenting virtual performances for audiences from Sydney, Australia to New York City. We bring together friends and artists in an effort to lift their spirits as we encourage their voices to be heard.
We established our group in April 2020 as a reply to the absence of live audiences due to the Covid 19 pandemic. In our first year, we presented five virtual productions as both fundraisers and as events to allow the voice of the theatre to move forward when so much of life is at a stand-still. We strive to be inclusive and authentic.
Join us to keep theatre alive and vital as a form of communication and hope.
Larry Pellegrini, Executive Director
Good Talk: Chit Chat, Episode 1
Virtual Arts Productions (VAP) is very excited to premiere a brand new recorded series called Good Talk: Chit Chats, these quick and personal interviews will support our October Good Talk theme, The Politics of Horror. Joe Leone, independent horror movie writer, director, and actor, is our first featured Chit Chat artist. Joe and VAP host, crazy Melissa Ford, discuss creepy houses, dead frogs and how Director Joe would kill Host Melissa in a horror movie! Click below to hear Joe’s masterful plan in this short interview.
While you’re over on our YouTube Channel, don’t forget to like and subscribe!
Virtual Arts was conceived as a way to help ease the silence in the arts community during the first days of the Covid-19 pandemic in early April 2019. Immediately upon feeling the hopelessness in the voices of fellow artists as theatres were temporarily shuttered, we decided to focus our energy in the one place that could not be locked down, our creative minds.
We gathered a small group of writers, directors, technicians and actors to produce “live” plays and discussions via a virtual platform so that we could continue to engage creatively in a safe environment.
Our first participants were a group of actors, directors and production staff who had worked with the award-winning interactive play, Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding, during the course of a thirty-year run, in more than ten cities across the United States.
We set up our first group Zoom call. Once the actors had gathered, we pitched the idea of taking a live interactive theatre production and transforming it into a live virtual interactive theatre production. The idea was greeted with some skepticism but it was decided that we should begin rehearsals. By the end of that Zoom call, the majority of the group was encouraged and ready for action.
Weekly Zoom Calls To Build A New Way of Performing
We started meeting weekly (digitally) and began developing a way to re-create a play that we had all previously worked on together. We discussed and bantered about new ways to write, direct, perform and finally to produce an authentic piece of theatre that reflected the restrictions of the times. The script was rewritten to meet the Zoom platform (and rewritten and rewritten and rewritten until we returned to the original story and fashioned a working Zoom script embracing the pandemic.)
We diligently addressed, digital sound issues, individual Zoom room lighting demand, directing challenges and production concerns in a progressive fashion. The greatest issue was equalizing the strength of each performers internet signal. We soon realized that we were not producing a single play on one stage, we were producing fifteen individual plays on fifteen different stages. We had a live band which handed us a cumbersome and unwilling problem because of the inherent sound delay on the platform. We gathered costumers and set dressers, we reached out to other virtual groups across the country for advice and received guidance from brothers and sisters who were seeking change.
Actors and the production team’s homes were turned into rehearsal halls and we dealt with dogs barking, babies crying and phones ringing. Rehearsal halls became sound stages as walls were cleared of pictures, beds were cleared of clothes and garages were tidied. We even put one character in a car and he drove throughout the city Zooming on the go.
During this wonderful and creative time, Virtual Arts was able to develop a professional environment for live theatre on a digital platform and most of the company members stood firm and supported the change as we swam in murky waters. Those that couldn’t support bowed out and were replaced with actors willing to swim. Our final step was organizing a tech rehearsal in fifteen locations all at the same time. Tech rehearsals need full and deliberate focus, this was a monumental step but each and every person did their best to be patient.
Theatre Across America In Transition
As we worked, we began to see live theatre across the nation transition from stage to screen (small screen) and the result was a new and unique theatrical experience.
Final Dress Rehearsal. Typically, this is a sh-t show and we succeeded. It was a complete wreck of missed cues, technical hiccups and blank screens. It was wonderful!
While we remembered with fondness the stage curtain, our vision led us to a black screen that kept the audience waiting. On the screen was a card that read “Our show starts in fifteen minutes”. We chose music to get the audience into the mood – a virtual overture – and we chose images and questions for those waiting to see the show as added entertainment. We had a logo built and invitations delivered. No paper ticket needed. An audience member only had to have a link, the time, the date and a device to sit in the digital theatre of Virtual Arts.
The pre-show hum of excited audience members reading programs and settling into their seats was replaced with the chat feature. We soon discovered in a world dominated by social media that this was a similar and satisfying equivalent. Finally, a host appears on the screen and “in character”, takes the audience through the many ways that they can be involved in the night’s performance. The host greets everyone on the chat and asks the audience to greet the host back. “Hello Las Vegas!” “Hi from Chicago.” “Break a leg from Kansas City.”
Then the play begins, and like magic, we are performing live again. We don’t hear the audience laugh but we see their comments in chat. We used cellphones to communicate to stage managers, we see a grand entrance of an important moment thwarted by the mute button – but it’s live theatre and the audience chats “You’re muted!” The actor is unmuted, and just like a forgotten line it becomes a moment of improvisation and joy as issues are solved and the play goes on. Shakespeare would have loved it. His audience would have thrown digital tomatoes.
Virtual live theatre is no less nerve wracking than in person live theatre. Our pulses exploded and we made our way, screen by screen, moment by moment and the play unfolded and was shared with an audience. Our First Performance. After six months of weekly and then daily virtual sessions, we launched a full interactive digital production of Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding as a fundraiser for the Nevada based Composers Showcase Entertainment Community Relief Fund on October 8, 2020. We did our production “live” with fifteen actors from three different time zones, a director in the
Northwest, production coordinators on the East Coast and a live band tucked neatly into a house in Las Vegas. We paid our actors and technicians and we helped raise a substantial amount of money for the benefit of other actors not as fortunate as we were.
The performance of a live interactive play usually depends on rubbing up against audience and perspiring as we dance together, eat together and laugh together. Instead, we found ourselves and our audience staring into screens and following the story visually and interactively on the chat. It was hard to make a decision on which to watch – the screen or the chat. We didn’t serve food (hard to do from state to state on a screenJ) but we did share what we were snacking on and cocktails flowed freely in the audience.
Our first performance was a race to share a new style of theatre that was just beginning to wake in the minds of the world and we were there, moving from moment to moment and learning to hold for laughs and mug for more.
We shared visions of the audience delighted and stunned to be seen on screen. The chat lit up and the actors continued. Audience stood. Audience sat. Audience laid down on a couch and watched from the comfort of home. There was no curtain call, but an audience Q&A gave way to cheers and questions. Wonderment about how we had achieved this moment was mostly without answers because we had never looked back on this extraordinary journey.
And when it was all said and done, theatre is theatre is theatre. Our first very appreciative audience shared text messages and congratulations via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, much like the dazzling frenzy of the after-show lobby. Sometimes an entire group of actors shared best remembered moments of shock and success. Laughs among us led to pride in our achievement.
We missed the paper programs, the combined scent of an audience in close quarters and the hugs of joy but we had re-envisioned our first live virtual production in a new way that felt rewarding and fulfilling. We had dreamed. And the decision was made to move Virtual Arts ahead into the ever-expanding world of theatre rethought.
Building Our Company at Virtual Arts
With Larry Pellegrini as executive director and Margaret Menzies Gonzalez as artistic director, the company has grown steadily producing six shows in its first year for the world wide virtual community. During this period, Christy Patti joined as director of operations and Melissa Ford rounded out this digital company as the director of research and development.
In January 2021, Virtual Arts formed its Board of Directors by inviting Tonya Ozone and Lynnie Godfrey to join. Tonya Ozone has worked closely with The Ashland Shakespeare Festival and the Boys and Girls Club of Hilo, Hawaii. She is an entrepreneur and successful board member who has developed programming for the Hilo YWCA and the Zonta Chapter of Hilo. Lynnie Godfrey is a Broadway actress and director. Her career has spanned forty years and includes NYC theatrical nominations and awards along with performances on and Off Broadway and on main stream television. Lynnie has worked closely with Norman Lear and PBS. The board guides this digital theatre company, steering us to define our work by adhering to our mission.
Our Mission: Virtual Arts is a theatre and event company that connects artists and audiences globally to realize the full potential of online and in person productions by developing authentic works of hope, humor and humanity. We offer assistance, guidance and production value for online community outreach events that raise awareness and support families and artists world-wide.
We have engaged Meredith Ebersole, a graphic designer from Portland, Oregon to develop our logos, Jean Pritchard, a master photographer to capture on screen moments and Jeff Gitlin, CEO of Jagged Edge Marketing, to upgrade our social media presence.
QUESTION: WHAT IS AHEAD. ANSWER: A FUTURE OF LIVE VIRTUAL THEATRE EVENTS
Our first year has taught us that Virtual Arts can stimulate change in humanity as we join with our guests in a united trek for social awakening. And we were not alone. In the first fifty-two weeks, we were joined in our efforts by companies like Samuel Goldwyn and Amazon. We asked for help and received it from the University of Hawaii and theatrical partners like Corcoran Productions, Black Theatre Girl Magic and HeARTS Productions. We produced and supported class reunions and loved one’s memorials. We structured corporate on line meetings with Paradise Activity Company and The International Propeller Club. We envisioned and celebrated with three hundred and fifty former members of Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding from around the world in the first gathering with the original company, The TNT Holiday Hangout.
Diverse ideals have engaged us to create plays about colliding cultures, the embracing changing of career paths inspired by the pandemic and a Juneteenth show that cemented twelve months of ceaseless steps forward in a small step toward a more diverse world. We highlighted the LGBTQ community and the Get Out The Vote movement.
We aren’t just a theatre company, we are a virtual presence seeking change through art, for art and because of art.
Conscious of the shoulders we stand on, Virtual Arts looks to the future and our 2021 – 2022 season, we know that artists are here for the long haul, feeding the fire of change with music, plays and focused discussions about how to light the future. At one time, we relished bringing our productions to an eager live audience in a sacred theatre, but now with the challenges and changes of the modern moment, Virtual Arts will bring high quality digital productions of to the entire world.
We have learned so much in our first year with the talent of our team and generosity of the audiences who have supported us. The frontier is a head and we can see it.
What is Virtual Arts Productions?
Virtual Arts is an online theatre and event company that connects artists and audiences globally to realize the full potential of online productions by developing authentic works of hope, humor and humanity. We offer a full range of theatrical productions, just as one would expect to see from a brick and mortar theater, only we bring all of it to you in the comfort of your own home! Through decades of traditional theatrical production, performance, writing, and technical experience coupled with a heart for innovation and excellence, the Virtual Arts team delivers the kind of high quality livestream performances the online community has been missing.
What does Virtual Arts Productions provide to audiences looking to stream theatre live online?
Theatrical audiences around the globe will experience live performance in a whole new way. All that is required is a stable internet connection. With the purchase of a ticket online, most of our productions will be live streamed directly to viewers and then made available for anytime streaming at a later time. Other content will include pre recorded pieces available for streaming at the viewer’s convenience, some at no cost at all. Each piece will be created or reworked specifically for this exciting new online platform. The future of live theatre is here! While in-person theatre can never be replaced, Virtual Arts offers global access to quality productions which truly celebrate, improve, and cater to the online venue.
Each season will be made up of varied yet complementary works. Just like any theatre company, our goal is to present something that will strike the fancy of every type of theatre consumer, and create enough intrigue to inspire an audience member to buy a ticket to something they might not have had the opportunity to attend before.
How is Virtual Arts Productions the same and how does it differ from a traditional theatre company?
Virtual Arts functions much like a traditional, in-person theatre company. We offer a wide range of works, grouped into a season for purchase as a package or there is an option to purchase each individual performance separately. Like many traditional theatrical venues and groups, we are a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. As such, we are governed by a Board of Directors, run by our Executive Artistic Team, and advised by our Committees, made up of trusted colleagues from all aspects of the industry.
We offer mainstage productions, new play festivals, musical performances, theatre camps for kids, talk backs, observation and interview pieces driven by social issues and our beloved theatrical community, all produced and curated by the Virtual Arts team. These works will be thoughtfully produced and directed specifically with the online venue in mind, whether they are projects originally intended for a traditional stage reimagined for online performance, or they are plays written intentionally for the virtual platform. Some shows will even involve direct interaction with the audience in a fun new way.
One unique feature the online platform affords us is we can audition and employ professional actors, writers, directors, and technicians from all across the United States, and are able to livestream their work to a global audience. This enables us to draw from a huge pool of talent, both performers and technicians alike. And we are able to engage an incredibly diverse and wide-ranging audience in large numbers.
We are also able to offer shows not only at the actual time they are occurring, but also with a flexible “stream when you can” option. Notice a show you are interested in attending or a piece you would like to see, but can’t make the livestream time? No problem, we record every performance for streaming at your convenience. No more missed opportunities to be in the audience!
Why was Virtual Arts Productions created, and why live stream virtual theatre online?
Born during the Covid-19 Global Pandemic, Virtual Arts began as a way to give artists a voice while our theaters and live event centers were shuttered. The team quickly recognized the potential reach for live theatre presented online. But what about the quality of work being delivered? We realized that lots of the content being put out online was being done so simply for some type of access to the arts during a time when audiences couldn’t gather together. And that was certainly ok at the time. It bridged the gap and kept us all connected to the arts in the only way we safely could. But our team saw the reality that virtual theatre would be around for the foreseeable future, long beyond the days of the pandemic. So we challenged ourselves: what if this content was being produced with the online platform in mind specifically? And what can we do to realize the full potential of livestream theatre? Inspired and motivated, we began to connect artists across the miles with each other and with their online audience. Collaborations were no longer hindered or prohibited by the proximity of the actors, writers, directors, and technicians. Attention to detail and an understanding of the potential of this platform as it relates to live performance became paramount. Lighting, sound, costuming, framing, backgrounds, sets, green screens, digital transitions–the possibilities are endless. And as the available cutting edge digital production, meeting and livestream technology continues to improve, so do we!
We are committed to the continuation of our mission: to connect artists and audiences globally and to realize the full potential of online productions by developing authentic works of hope, humor and humanity. We will present pieces that are socially and culturally relevant, and that are equitably representative of the diverse range of artists we are able to access in an all-encompassing, empowering, and informative way that only an online venue can provide. We consider this not only our passion, but our mandate and calling.
Virtual Arts is made up of artists who will always create and perform in the traditional sense. Virtual theatre affords them a new and exciting outlet to experiment with their creative energy. It’s become clear that virtual events are here to stay across so many sectors, and the arts sector is no different. Our audiences are getting used to doing and seeing more on their own screens in their own homes. We intend to grow right along with the technology available for online theatre production. It’s been an exciting venture to explore online meeting and streaming venues as a performance space, and from there create a season of works that are enhanced by being produced online. Focusing on the truly unique possibilities these platforms offer, while being aware of their limitations and adjusting accordingly, has been exactly the type of challenge our team is always up for.
Who is behind the scenes at Virtual Arts Productions?
The Virtual Arts Executive Artistic team is made up of artists in four different states in two different time zones:
Larry Pellegrini – Executive Director
Margaret Menzies Gonzalez – Artistic Director
Christy Patti – Director of Operations
Melissa Ford – Director of Research and Development
Our bios are available on our website virtualartsproductions.org.
Our Board is currently made up of the team mentioned above, along with Lynnie Godfrey and Tonya Ozone. Lynnie Godfrey is a Broadway actress and director. Her career has spanned forty years and includes NYC theatrical nominations and awards, along with performances on and off Broadway and on mainstream television. Lynnie has worked closely with Norman Lear and PBS. Tonya Ozone has worked closely with The Ashland Shakespeare Festival and the Boys and Girls Club of Hilo, Hawaii. She is an entrepreneur and successful board member who has developed programming for the Hilo YWCA and the Zonta Chapter of Hilo.
Virtual Arts is based in Nevada, but our presence is global.
How can I join the Virtual Arts Productions online live stream theatre community?
If you are interested in purchasing season packages or individual tickets, or if you’d like to make a donation or become a benefactor, please visit our website virtualartsproductions.org. All upcoming shows and other opportunities to participate will be easily accessible there. Please also connect with us on social media:
Like on FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/VirtualArtsProds
Follow on INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/virtual.arts.prods/
Follow on TWITTER: https://twitter.com/VirtualArtsProd
Follow on PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/virtualarts/
Follow on LINKEDIN: linkedin.com/company/virtual-arts-productions
Subscribe on YOUTUBE:
If you are an actor, technician, writer, producer, director, or any other type of artist, and you wish to be considered for future projects with Virtual Arts, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you shine!
When and where can I see a Virtual Arts Productions online live stream theatre show?Virtual Arts produces shows for livestream at a range of times to accommodate viewers in different time zones. We also record all performances for streaming at a later time. Most shows will be produced on Zoom or other appropriate online platform, and generally, streaming can be accessed through the original production platform or via our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsbsfaU4eOckGJdZUjtQRRA There is free content waiting for you there now! What are you waiting for? Click the link and become a part of the Virtual Arts community!
Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed
Virtual Arts Productions Live Online Streaming Theater Events
Leo & Lili’s Luau:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/199859042777
Holiday Kids Theatre Camp:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/202133024317
Good Talk: Diversity in Casting:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/215680475107
Good Talk: Tony n’ Tina Giving Back:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/215684788007