Generally, all plays for the stage are made to be experienced in person. When the pandemic began, and in some instances before that, people have tried to adapt what was meant for the stage to other formats. They’ve been turned into movies, live streamed with cameras capturing the whole stage, and read over zoom.
But even in those other formats, the play was meant to be viewed in person. Occasionally they weren’t, but something still felt like it was missing.
Absent was never intended to be performed to an only in-person audience. The theory was, “plays outside of a shared space lack immediacy and intimacy, because you cannot share space with them.” Absent aims to find a way to restore that immediacy and intimacy with its fundamental concept.
It has been written as a new medium to mirror the way people often communicate in real life – through text. There is almost no spoken dialogue in the entire experience. A shared space that’s both in the room with the characters and in the room with you, wherever you are.
As the audience member, you’ll be able to see the characters, but they are communicating with each other in a group text — which you’ll also be able to see on your phone!
Audience members are encouraged to use their phones as they normally would in a group chat – you can scroll back to reread something, check a notification and come back and see what you missed, etc. Plus it gives us the opportunity to make the show more interactive. There will be screen shots and other attachments for you to check out as you try to solve the mystery with the characters.
We hope this continues to help the art form that we know as theatre continue to grow and develop to take on challenges. We hope it helps meet the audience where they are, and we hope it continues to push the boundaries of what we think of as theatre.
Earlier this year, Absent had a reading at The Lab in Chicago and feedback (edited for length) included:
“… this is brilliant for an interactive experience utilizing our current technology… compelling.”
“…very believable and real.”