Sept. 17, 2020

Camera as character: UCalgary prof’s play goes digital and beyond

Calgary collaboration presents Like Tom Cruise Loves Running, online until Sept. 19

The global pandemic has pushed live theatre online in the form of Zoom readings and filmed performances. But for three local creatives, that isn’t enough.

“Play readings on Zoom show enthusiasm, but lack design elements," says technical and film director Wil Knoll. "Plays simply ‘filmed’ with a few static cameras are interesting, but lack something that traditional cinema delivers on screen. It’s retrofitting the craft, not re-imagining it with the technology we’re being forced to use."

Enter observationOne, an experimental project funded by the Rozsa Foundation and Calgary Arts Development's Online Programming Grant, designed to explore the potential of digital theatre under COVID-19 restrictions. observationOne brings UCalgary drama instructor Mike Czuba’s short play Like Tom Cruise Loves Running to the digital and physically distant world by casting the camera as a character.

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Like Tom Cruise Loves Running delves into the question ‘How do you love?’. Three people meet in a space that looks similar to a theatre stage. They immediately try to show/prove how much they love. Grand statements are made, running on the spot, arguing, debates, agreements and declarations power this play from start to stop with a rhythm and pace that will leave everyone out of breath.

Conceived as a co-direction, with Czuba as performance and film director, Knoll as technical and film director, and Tim Nguyen as director of photography, Like Tom Cruise Loves Running features Val Duncan, Trevor Loman and Donna Ng. Nguyen, Duncan and Ng are UCalgary alumni.

The live show opened Sept. 16 and runs until Sept. 19. The performance starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free and the stream is accessible online.

About the Online Programming Grant

In this period of physical distancing, the Rozsa Foundation’s Online Programming Grant supports artists in creating innovative programming or activities that can be shared digitally with an audience. It provides the opportunity for art organizations to explore the potential of using digital technologies in new ways while further entrenching the critical role of the arts in society.

About observationOne

observationOne is an experimental digital theatre project led by the collaboration of Dancing Monkeys Laboratories, Tim Nguyen Co. and unit2. The project is funded by the Rozsa Foundation’s Online Programming Grant in partnership with Calgary Arts Development and the Calgary Foundation. Find more information and behind-the-scenes.

LTCLR poster