CoHo Productions brings live theater performance of ‘Black Box’ to the digital stage

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Proceeds from the online event will support Covid-19 arts and culture relief.

Coronavirus may have closed most theaters, but for CoHo Productions the show will go on– online. The theatre company is presenting a virtual run of its upcoming live performance of “Black Box: Page to Stage.”

“All theatre’s are trying to figure out how to keep things going,” CoHo Artistic Council member, Stephen Weeks said. “We’re trying this particular project as an experiment to give people a sense of theatre, while people can’t actually go to a theatre.” 

With the Northwest Portland theatre announcing ‘no gatherings for the foreseeable future,’ CoHo is bringing the stage to the virtual world. On Friday, the company will premiere an in-person live performance of “Black Box” for the media. The show will be filmed and each scene will be rolled out weekly for online audiences to enjoy from home.

“As we film these scenes, we are not doing edits, not doing cuts, so the idea is to get the spontaneity that you would get in a live theatrical performance,” Weeks said. “We are staging scenes from the novel in the space… where the novel really takes place.” 

Black Box: Page to Stage” is a novel written by CoHo’s co-founder Gary D. Cole. Cole wrote the first play premiered at CoHo in 1995. Coming full circle, Cole is helping the theatre mark its 25th anniversary with an innovative virtual experience.

From Zoom script reads to socially distant rehearsals, actors Marcella Laasch and James Luster have had to adapt to a new type of normal. 

“The other day it was our first rehearsal .. in this place and its six feet and mask everywhere.. and sanitizer,” Laasch said. “It’s been strange, but we’ve made it work and we get to do what we love.”

“We have a really simple set up and we can be socially distant and still have the scene come to life,” James Luster added. “It’s a learning curve, but it’s also something I’m learning how to do because I don’t see much of a future without it right now.” 

The online event will support Covid-19 arts and culture relief. 75 percent of proceeds will go to the Oregon Arts and Cultural Recovery Program, and the remaining funds will go directly back to CoHo Productions to help cover the loss the theatre company sustained from having to close and cancel several of its performances.

For more information about the online event or to purchase tickets, click here.

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