#240 – Siobhan Richardson

Siobhan is an actor/fighter/singer/dancer, currently based in Toronto, but originally from Kitchener-Waterloo, and trained at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria. Tours and travelling are one of the perks of the job! Acting credits include Lucy Debrie (And Then The Lights Went Out, Stage West Calgary), Mo (Mo and Jess Kill Susie, Harley Dog Productions), Lady Capulet (Romeo and (her) Juliet Headstrong Collective/Urban Bard), Solange (The Maids, Whirligig Productions), the twins Jessica and Julia (The Last Resort, Stirling Festival Theatre), and the world premiere productions of The Madness of the Square (Cahoots Theatre Projects) and The Forbidden Phoenix (Citadel Theatre and LKTYP).

Twitter: @fighteractress
Instagram: @fighteractress



Siobhan Richardson, Phil Rickaby

Phil Rickaby  00:02

Welcome to Episode 240 of Stageworthy I’m your host Phil Rickaby. Stageworthy is a podcast about people in Canadian theatre featuring conversations with actors, directors, playwrights and more. My guest this week is Siobhan Richardson. A couple of weeks ago I had the producers of the playmate podcast, Laura Mullin and Chris Tolley as guests for the second time, check out their first spot back in Episode 113. Now, play me from CBC podcast is proud to present a new series, The show must go on featuring exciting productions from some of Canada’s top creators, including Hannah Moscovitch, Drew Hayden Taylor, David Yee, Chloe hung and Anna Chatterton. Each month, enjoy a new show from the comfort of your own home. The theatres have closed but the show will go on. You can subscribe to play me wherever you get your podcasts. If you’ve been listening to Stageworthy for a while, or maybe you’re a first time listener and you got a link from the website or from social media, did you know that you can subscribe so that you never miss an episode? You can do that by searching for Stageworthy on Apple podcast, Google podcasts or Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts and clicking on the handy subscribe button so that every week the new episode of stage where they will be delivered right to you. And if you subscribe, let me know that you’re a new subscriber. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @philrickaby and My website is philrickaby.com; And you can find Stageworthy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @stageworthypod, and the website where you can find the archive of all 240 episodes is it stageworthypodcast.com. As I mentioned, my guest this week is Siobhan Richardson shavon wears many hats from actor and singer to fight choreographer and intimacy coach, Siobhan been on the podcast before but one of the reasons I wanted to talk to her again is that she’s had experience with live streaming Theatre on both sides of the pandemic, both with Crux Encounter productions and as part of the NAC’s #CanadaPerform. we talked about some of the challenges of presenting theatre via live streaming and nerd out a little bit about the technical bits and a lot more. Hey Siobhan. So, um, how are you doing in this age of I don’t even know what to call it. quarantine we’re not technically under lockdown, but we’re, you know, we’re isolating. I have a friend who calls it the Qurantimes

Siobhan Richardson  03:00

Nice yep and the new in the in the figuring out I feel like you’re right there’s there’s less in the way right now where we are exactly have enforced quarantine or I mean it was never was enforced the same way that it was other places. But yeah, the the restrictions are being lifted and we’re figuring out new things. And that part of it, I think is really quite new. My attitude towards it is, we still don’t know a lot about the health situation. So I’m going to operate pretty much as I have been until we know more I’ve got I’ve got friends who are very close to me who some of them have asthma, some have other family members that they are very close to or living in close quarters with that they have to be mindful of their health. So I’m just, I am practising social distancing as much as I can until we until we know more. I just break my heart too. To know that someone near me or someone near them got sick and to always wonder if if I had been a part of that now, I can’t drive ourselves crazy with it. Because when it does happen that someone near you get sick, you can’t. You can’t spend the rest of your life blaming yourself about it. No. But I I feel like in this time, it’s a bit of a control freak. It’s something that we can control. Yeah, I can control how I spend my time I can control how I sanitise on the way in and out of my place, I can control how much space I give myself and give other people. So I mean, and I think that’s what I did the most, especially at the very beginning when I didn’t know. Like, it’s like it felt like nobody quite knew but what we could control is, these are the actions I take and this is how I take care of myself. Otherwise because Not just about going into the world. It’s also how are you taking care of yourself? in your own time in place?

Phil Rickaby  05:06

Yeah. And that’s really sort of a big one because, you know, as in the arts world there’s not a whole lot to do. Yeah, you know, there’s a we can’t go to rehearsals, we can’t go to work. So yeah, there’s all these these limitations on on the ways that like, on everything, so many people I know who basically had a constant hustle. Yeah, there’s nothing to hustle for right now. And it’s sort of like watching people try to figure out almost like, Who am I without the hustle?

Siobhan Richardson  05:40

Yeah. For me, that’s been a huge one. Before I go off into like a sort of other tangent. I’m definitely one of those people who has done a lot of communicating until now and then the the, the drop off of the things the outreaches But I am doing. At one point I said to myself, you know what, I’m, I’m going to just take a vacation for the next several days. I’m going to enjoy that. And just let that be the thing I am doing right now. But at the same time, I’m one of the really lucky ones who actually has been working. Right. Yeah, I recently taught at an all online stage combat course. She was a cold workshop weekend. Hmm. I have been teaching some online classes. I was very lucky to get a Canada performs slot through the NAC. I’ve actually performed I’ve had a rehearsal online. So like I said, I’m one of the very, very, very lucky ones who is still working in some degree, and some of the side hustle stuff that I had sort of not had time for. I can now pick up on some of that stuff. So I don’t know. I haven’t But how much of it is me being a bit of a workaholic and continuing to do the thing that is earth for me? Right. But how much of it is also the way I am still able to practice my art? I’ve I’ve been a big advocate for training online for being able to outreach online for I don’t know, about a decade or more. So I’m just really excited that a lot of people are taking another look at what they consider to be the potential of training and performing online like it’ll never replace live. Mm hmm. But what are the uniquenesses that are available to us through the media that we have available now?

Phil Rickaby  07:42

Yeah, it’s very interesting, because I feel like like 10 years ago, the technology wasn’t even really there to do it as well as we can now.

Siobhan Richardson  07:48

No, no, very much very much.

Phil Rickaby  07:52

But it’s still like, I need to also point out the fact that there are people who are who suffer from – just who have people who have disabilities who’ve been saying we could do this online for ages and be told no. And now we’re like, oh, yeah, no, no, we can do it. Yeah.

Siobhan Richardson  08:11

Like, oh, the Oh, the frustration of you didn’t you weren’t listening to me. You weren’t believing me. I was giving you solutions. And you weren’t. You weren’t believing me or, or listening?

Phil Rickaby  08:22

Yeah, this was there all the time. And you just said that we couldn’t do it. But now you can. Hmm. Can I ask about like, what has teaching? Are through video been like, especially like teaching stage combat on video? How has that? What’s what what does that look like? How has that been? What lessons have you learned?

Siobhan Richardson  08:46

So what does it look like? It looks like a lot more in the way of demonstrating the timing is very different. I’ve really noticed that the way I’m able to perceive my students is different because we’re not in the same room together. So when when everyone’s stressed about a thing in a room, you can feel everyone’s shift in the room and go, Okay, this is something we need to spend more time on. But you don’t have that when you’re teaching online. So there’s a lot more of visually checking in with students. Some people are not typers. So you can’t always rely on people to we can always demand that they use the chat function. Some people are not as confident or comfortable with speaking through, like through online means. So there is a different kind of diligence not that you don’t have the same diligence in person but there’s a different kind of diligence when you are looking to check in with your students and so it dictates a little bit the form when you’re in person, there’s a different kind of personal checking in when the in the particular venues that I’ve been teaching in online in the last couple months. It feels a little bit more like people a seminar and when I say that when I say seminar, I think of like rooms of 100 people, right opposed to a room of 12, or a room of 20, where there is a different kind of personal interaction available. So in that way, there’s a bit of, there’s a bit of a distance still. And I think for some of my colleagues were like you absolutely cannot teach this online, I think that’s part of it, is there’s something about feeling the breath of the people around you and being able to pick up that vibe that you don’t have when you’re doing it online. Also, stage combat is a is a is a two person movement form. There are things you can do by yourself. But the bulk of the movement form is with other people. So there are parts of it that can never be replaced. No. So what it looks like is a little bit more in the way of the practice part of the job as opposed to the rehearsal, which is the paired part practices, what you do at home rehearsals, what you do with other people. I got that from Tim Klotz. Who was one matters. So there’s a lot more focus in learning your own instrument using a lot of speech and voice and demonstration, to help people learn their own instrument and develop their own, I suppose autonomy with their practice. So it’s a lot about coaching, how do I, how do I make use of time, when I’m by myself? What are the things in my space that I can do for strength for balance for flexibility, for perception, for accuracy and precision? What are some of the what are some of the attributes that I can work alone so that when I’m working with other people, my let’s say my accuracy is not in my way of being able to communicate, or my balance is not in my way of being able to be in the right place, so that I can most effectively communicate with my partner. So it becomes about a different kind of focus.

Phil Rickaby  11:55

It’s interesting that you mentioning focus because there’s there’s an a zoom – I say zoom, but there’s so many different things. But we’ll go with zoom, because zoom is the is the video conferencing App of the moment? It seems Yes. Yeah. They’re like, right time. Right Place, I guess. If you’re in a room with 12 people, that’s one thing. That so that’s a that’s a regular sized group. Have you found because I know that I have if you have like a zoom meeting of 12 people, and you’re trying to interact with them, that’s overwhelming.

Siobhan Richardson  12:29

Yeah, yeah, it can get overwhelming really quickly. I’ve been on calls with 50 people. And in that case, that’s when you start bringing in like, it’s very much a seminar feeling. So you can there is a feature in zoom if you haven’t found it yet that you can hide people who are not, who are not sharing their video, right so that the number of empty boxes you’re looking at is different. So the people you are seeing then can have have bigger faces. But that’s the big thing is that we so much of our communication is nonverbal, and you’re missing a lot of it, all you have is his faces. And some people aren’t aware that they’re on camera or they forget that they’re on camera. So they don’t realise that what they’re they’re thinking face when they’re not sure of their camera placement. So they’re, they’re not necessarily aware of how their face is being perceived. So as someone who is in that meeting? There’s there is it’s like learning a whole new skill set. I think.

Phil Rickaby  13:27

Yeah. I know that because I, you know, I, with my day job, we do a lot of a lot of meetings, a lot of, you know, video meetings, I’ve become super aware of what my face is doing.

Siobhan Richardson  13:38

Oh, yeah.

Phil Rickaby  13:39

Because, you know, like you said, your think-y face without the whole body language might look angry.  like you don’t know. And so you have to, it’s almost like part of this skill, especially if you’re dealing with clients or something like that is to make sure that you know what your face is doing, which is something that we don’t often do in theatre because we’re not supposed to pay attention to that actor isn’t supposed to really look in the mirror and all that stuff in the practice in the mirror. But it’s almost like for this kind of thing. You need to be aware of what your face is doing.

Siobhan Richardson  14:12

What it’s what, as an actor, I’ve been in a couple of rehearsals as an actor, it strikes me as a kind of like, in the first workshops that I did for performance capture for motion capture, it feels like a hybrid between film and theatre technique. Hmm. It feels like yeah, that awareness of what is my face doing and the awareness of where’s the camera and and what am I sharing and that the, huh, a different kind of being on? I guess. Yeah. But yeah, it feels like a hybrid technique. It. It feels like a new technique. And I think that’s one of the part of that learning curve that we’re going through is that we want to present some particular material and part of it is part of it is learning. Like how do you deal with the ones like the built in one second delays friends? Then how does that ask the pacing but we’re doing that live pacing thing while we’re doing while we have to be aware of what is my face saying and doing at all times? which is which is not a theatre technique?

Phil Rickaby  15:18

No. When you’re doing stage combat class or workshop Are you are you giving like cuz you know you can do different setups and it really depends on what kind of camera you have with full body or you may really have Are you really only senior class your students like faces and hoping that they’re getting getting stuff right.

Siobhan Richardson  15:44

I it. It’s one of those things that I kind of leave it up to the student, I let them know that. I can’t I can’t give them notes unless I see them. So and also I can’t be there to be an outside eyes. So they’re assuming a lot of responsibility and So far looking out for their space, which also changes what I teach, right? Like there’s a smaller scale precision and accuracy or smaller detail that I’m often doing because I’m aware that people may have a space the size of a yoga mat. Mm hmm. So, so there’s, there’s that part of it. Many of the people I’ve been associating with for the movement work, have some have some sense of camera awareness. So they’ll be placing their cameras in a place that they can move towards or away from it. Or they will some of them have features like you can click a button and the zoom changes on it. Like how close or how far away you are, will will change on to the frame changes. So some make use of that. But it’s also Yeah, and awareness of if there’s, like 17 boxes on a screen. I can’t see the same kind of detail.  So it’s – I think part of it, I’m very, very grateful for some of the people I trained with, because a lot of their focus was on, what are the details you can perceive with the information that you have? So what can I tell about the into the subtlety of parts of someone’s structure, when all I can see is the larger shape? Mm hmm. So some of that training is really coming into play because I can I can get what information I have, I can go something’s not quite right. And then I can watch a little longer and assess differently. But again, that’s where the pacing changes a lot with teaching this way, is because part of it is developing a new skill set. And part of it is I get caught by something and then having to watch a little bit longer, so that I can truly assess what I’m actually looking at.

Phil Rickaby  17:52

Yeah, there’s this funny thing that’s been happening that I’ve noticed where, so we’re just really starting to explore video for For theatre classes for performance, all of this stuff, but somehow we’re also expected to be experts at it. Hmm. Like, overnight.

Siobhan Richardson  18:09

Do you feel that? I feel like there’s a lot?

Phil Rickaby  18:12

Like, no, I think there is. But there’s also like, Here you are. I think there’s this problem with the whole performance aspects, for example, like, yes, we’re learning. But, you know, you want to you want to try to give a performance on, on like, whatever video application you’re using this as, as polished and good as possible. And yet, we’ve never done this before.

Siobhan Richardson  18:38

As, as Bernie Brown says, FFT, fn first times,

Phil Rickaby  18:43


Siobhan Richardson  18:44

No, I think with I don’t know, I, I don’t know that I feel the same thing. I’ll have to say I don’t know that I feel the same pressure for things to be so polished. I think what I perceive is a lot of leeway for For various aspects of it to be unpolished. And I think especially at the beginning of the whole world going into isolation, there was a lot of just wanting to connect, genuinely. And I think as long as, as long as there was some element of here is a story. Let’s enjoy this story, then. Then it was working. But maybe as things develop, I don’t know. And maybe, maybe I’ve just been part of slightly different processes, then you have in that.

Phil Rickaby  19:36

I just wonder, because I think there’s this perception that like, we had leeway in March, hmm. And now, we’ve seen the performance that basically looks the same as the zoom meeting that we have in our day jobs. Mm hmm. And now we’re looking for something more. Hmm. Because it’s hard for an audience that might be spending a lot of time On zoom, similar day to now turn that and try to say okay, now this is entertainment when it looks like exactly what looks like the same thing you’ve been doing.

Siobhan Richardson  20:09

Yeah. Okay. I think I now understand. Yeah, so as we well, so I think I was super lucky, super, super lucky at the beginning. When I did my Canada performs segment, I was working with Dhalia Katz as my director. And right away, she was really clear about how does your background look? What frame Are you working in? What are you dressing in? How’s your lighting? How are we maximising the frame space. So that when we were working together on creating that performance, there was already a lot of thought put into it. So I think I kind of, I kind of lucked out with someone who already had attention on some of those details so that while you’re still looking at that small frame we’re filling it in a different way than then if we have an awareness or not of what a rehearsal space is. So okay, now I think maybe I didn’t I wasn’t quite keying into what your your question was. So that now? Yes. So then when we’re asking an audience to engage as an audience and not as an active participant in a zoom call with other people in their living room spaces, it’s it’s like a whole new design element. Yeah. And it’s, and it’s working with what people have, maybe people don’t have a blank wall. Maybe people don’t have a camera quality or everyone’s like some people I know are only working off of their devices. Yeah. Because they don’t have either a laptop or a computer or an external camera that they can set up somewhere. So then what and they may not have a tripod, and like everywhere is sold out. Everything right now. They are. So we’re kind of making do with with what we have and like one of the discussions we were having in this rehearsal was one person was like, oh, in the rehearsal I made, I made a bad choice. I sat in this incredibly comfortable, comfortable chair, and it completely altered my energy and then like, She’s like, are you all standing the whole time? Like, what are you? Like we’re having these discussions about how am I interacting with the technology as a performer so that my audience’s interaction is is optimised? Yeah, it’s a whole new design element including not its not blocking but it’s how do I stand? What clothes am I wearing? How am I monitoring my breath? How is my voice being picked up? It’s it is I do come back to I do maintain. It’s this weird hybrid of of acting technique and of theatre technique, and on camera techniques and voiceover technique. Hmm. How do I like how am I How am I aligning my lungs so that I’m optimising my sound? Oh, how am I designing my backdrop? What can I What can I make shift with the, like the one set of sheets that I have? Yeah, and the two square feet I have available to me and the noisy neighbourhood I’m in or whatever. Yeah. That was definitely one of the

Phil Rickaby  23:21

one of the there’s, there’s so many things that because you one of the reasons why I was really interested to talk to you is because you have essentially two very different experiences with video. And performance. Mm hmm. You have the experience that you had when you were doing a Why We Fight or with the with Crux entertainment. And then you have a performance? Yes, yes. And so qrx Academy productions, yeah. And then and then you have the candidate performs. I’m curious about if you found that anything that you learned through what you were doing with Crux encounter. If that helps you with when you were doing your Canada performs

Siobhan Richardson  24:05

To a degree Yeah. With Crux Encounter productions, part of the mandate of the company is is essentially doing stage combat live for an on camera audience. So the purpose is a stage production live captured. So things that we were experimenting with are like for for stage fight performance. How do we hide the gap? How do we hide the nap? How do we have the energy of a live stage combat performance match what people expect to see for film performance because the energy levels are different and the timing is different. So from that, understanding that audience’s perceptions of what is happening in a live space is different than what is perceived by the camera which is something that we know But to have done it so viscerally with with the art form that’s going to suffer the most arguably in that transfer. And it was interesting to go back and watch my Canada performs performance and to see bits where I went Oh yeah, I didn’t I didn’t apply that that knowledge there. But they were also two very different media in that Canada performs the faking it sex and violence with Siobhan Richardson that that was like DIRECT address into the camera, which is not what we were doing for Why We Fight which was like a captured theatre production. and Canada performs was was kind of like a lecture demonstration. One person show kind of a thing. What did we learn it What did I What did I apply? We talked a lot about voice and how is the audience perceiving voice? There was definitely talk about use of space, which is of course Like what we do on stage, but on on a frame, it’s different. And even over the last, what is now a month, month and a half. I’ve done a couple of other things like guest spots on someone’s Instagram Live on David Connolly’s Instagram Live the various classes that I’ve been teaching. And so all these little bits keep coming back, like how am I using my frame? How is the voice being used lighting lighting is huge to have that visceral experience of like, Oh, yeah, the lighting makes a really big difference. movement and pacing. I want to say that there was another one that really stood out for me. placement of the camera in relationship to your monitor, there was a seminar that I was teaching, where designing when to look away from the camera and then when to look into the camera. Hmm, makes a big difference as to the expression of intimacy and so I use this in in the Henry g 20. Rehearsal when When doing asides coming close to the camera, so it had a bit of a like, oh, by the way, this is you and me talking, as opposed to stepping back so that there’s that sense of distance. Right. So there’s a lot I found that there’s a lot on the performer to, to manage those minute differences. And of course, it’s how many steps so it can be a little bit clunky if you’re not thinking about it.

Phil Rickaby  27:24

Yes, yeah. In in, in the, the performances that you’ve done in the work that you’ve done with, you know, in the, the teaching online and all of that stuff, you’ve sort of noticed, I’m sure some of the deficiencies in both performance and presentation. I wonder, like, tell me about what you’ve what you’ve experienced as the real deficiencies in a digital performance right now.

Siobhan Richardson  27:54

The time delay, I find the time delay really challenging whereas I’m you know, I’ve worked mostly in theatre for my professional life. So there’s the thing about pacing and timing that you just know when you’re in a space with somebody else who can feel their breath change. There’s a particular moment in rehearsal where I took a breath and started speaking with what I thought was going to be the right timing, to have have a have a good pacing between myself and the person before me. But they took a slightly longer amount of time for their like statement, comma, last two words that I completely like drawed all over, all over there. So some of the some of the subtleties in the minute control over those or those moments. That’s one of the biggest efficiencies and things like trying to have a group speaking in chanting together is –

Phil Rickaby  28:51

At work a number of times we have attempted to sing happy birthday to somebody a few times. It was the worst thing you’ve ever heard. There’s not like bad like when your family’s like, like, like, basically screaming Happy birthday, it’s because everybody is singing what they think is the same time. It’s just terrible.

Siobhan Richardson  29:14

Oh, wow. And it really? And on top of that everyone’s in different keys. And so and of course the Yeah, the actual, like the speed of it’s gonna keep changing as people think they’re catching up with each other.

Phil Rickaby  29:23

Yeah. But you know, has has it standard latency. I think you pointed out it’s 105 milliseconds at a minimum, hmm. Or sorry, 150 milliseconds at a minimum. But like, there’s so many other factors and so, like, what’s your experience where it’s so many things and like, you know, you’re on Wi Fi, they’re plugged into their modem like it’s it can be as as as simple as that. Yeah. And so, like, it’s almost like, like learning how to be in a scene with someone. Over the digital is, is even, like that’s a challenge in itself.

Siobhan Richardson  30:07

Yeah. Like when you say that I think very much about not being able to breathe with somebody having to look into the camera so that the audience perceiving feels like there’s eye contact being made, as opposed to looking down at my script. Because a lot of the things that I’ve been involved in have been with other when they’re with other people, they have been early. So they’re we’re still we’re still on book. And then the other challenge too is if we want to try to do a filmic technique where we’re looking off camera, the same direction. Zoom in particular, you can’t control which screen is where. So you don’t know which way you’re looking. It might be back of head to back ahead.

Phil Rickaby  30:51

Yeah, you have no idea because it’s just like zoom makes its own determination about how everybody is ordered. And it will be different for me and it will be different for you.

Siobhan Richardson  30:59

Yeah. Like dear zoom, please create the whole opportunity to be able to adjust the screens.

Phil Rickaby  31:07

Oh my goodness, please. Also there’s –

Siobhan Richardson  31:09

Everyone send your suggestions to zoom, do it now.

Phil Rickaby  31:12

Yes. Now, there’s also the fact that suddenly here you are you doing a performance and you’ve got that Brady Bunch grid? Yeah, there’s your own face. Mm hmm. In that grid. And, you know, we’re not used to watching our faces when we’re acting. Yeah. And it’s quite fascinating actually, to watch your own face, but you can’t and yet, there it is. I don’t know anybody. It’s so distracting. I don’t know anybody who is unable to, to who is able to ignore their own face.

Siobhan Richardson  31:49

It’s, it’s, I mean, I remember talking with my sister’s kids when they were little, and you’d be having a conversation with them on video chat, and then you’d lose them because they be so excited about watching own faces. Yeah. You know what, here’s a fun thing to to look up Google or YouTube, like dolphins and elephants looking at themselves in the mirror. Because they get mirrors, they understand them. So dolphins will like blow bubbles and roll around in the mirrors. It’s that thing of like being fascinated with who you are and what you look like. It’s right. It’s adorable. And it’s fun to do. But But yeah, when it comes to acting like I do, I do I do. I check out what I’m doing. What’s that face I’m making? Ah, oh, no. Oh, I’m all washed out now. Like,

Phil Rickaby  32:33

right there we go back to the face thing. Yeah. You know, yeah. Um, what other deficiencies Have you have you found aside from that?

Siobhan Richardson  32:44

Aside from delay from looking at yourself, not not be able to breathe with other people, what direction you’re facing. I’ve engaged more as a performer than I have as an audience. But other things I’ve noticed Oh, like, like timing. If timing of turning cameras on and off, like you have to become your own engineer. So Oh man, the number of times you forget to turn your microphone on, because you don’t want it. You don’t want it on all the time. Because you don’t want people’s speaker view to switch to you. You don’t want that to be weird. And then you forget to turn your speaker on. So like I really like hotkeys. I lose my keyboard a lot. So like learning all the hotkeys for things, so I can do them really fast. And I don’t have to, like that’s the other thing when you’re trying to turn your camera and your mic on and off. You’re like looking down at your keyboard to do that. So I like these for that personally.

Phil Rickaby  33:34


Siobhan Richardson  33:36

Yeah. So it’s

Phil Rickaby  33:37

what about, you know, when you’re performing on in the digital sphere, the thing that has not yet been solved? Is the fact you have an audience that you essentially cannot hear.

Siobhan Richardson  33:52

Right. So yeah. One of the first things that I told Dhalia when we were preparing for Canada performs is is that precisely I was like, I, I’m doing this into the void and it feels feels kind of awful. Yeah, at least when you’re doing a script with other people, you are you are engaging with them. I mean, the one of the little things you can do as zoom does have the reactions feature so you can get some reactions that way. I, in a way, I’d kind of love it if they floated across the screen a little bit more right now they’re attached to the individual. Like if there’s a if there were an audience or performance view, or even the webinar view where the where the where the reactions could, like float across the screen like it does on on Facebook Live, for instance,

Phil Rickaby  34:41

it’d be great unfortunately on the on the on the webinar view. You only have you don’t have the same reactions. Oh, right. So there’s your fewer reactions on zoom. Yeah, you know, it’d be great to have them. I’ve seen people with cards, but that only works in a meeting.

Siobhan Richardson  34:58

Right everybody Yeah,

Phil Rickaby  35:00

yes, right? That’s right. Um, recently I came across a video application called Rally. And I found that they’re a Toronto company. And one of the things that they do is they were essentially designed for, it’s like, you know, consider that you walk into a room and there’s a bunch of tables, and you could sit at a table and talk to the people there. Okay, so you can have that sort of thing. And your table is in focus, audibly, and everybody else’s table. Because when we walk into a room and there’s a conversation, we can still hear that hum. They lower everybody else to 20%.

Siobhan Richardson  35:39

Oh, interesting.

Phil Rickaby  35:41

And if you were taking the stage, then you’re at 100%. And everybody else’s is their volume goes down to 20%. But you can still hear them.

Siobhan Richardson  35:50

Oh, that’s that’s really nice.

Phil Rickaby  35:52

Yeah, can’t see them. But you can hear them which is pretty cool.

Siobhan Richardson  35:54

Yeah, because the solve we did for for Canada performs is that I had Bluetooth headphones and Dahlia was in my ear so that I could have some kind of vocal response. I can have some great breaths with me but be able to actually hear the whole audience again. I think that’s if you talk to some of the people I’ve talked to that’s been the biggest thing is just the the interconnectedness is missing and audio would be a great start. I know. I know a lot of people who intensely view their audience when they’re performing. I mean, I I I have a hard time with that. I can’t I’m like how do you have time to stare into people’s faces this way? Clearly, it’s a different style. But that is something that has been that has been missing is the knowing that you’re affecting your audience, whether that be visually or audio.

Phil Rickaby  36:50

I know with I know with Rally early in their in their experimentation. They did have the camera running for all of their audience members. So you can see them But that is resource heavy.

Siobhan Richardson  37:02

Oh, yeah.

Phil Rickaby  37:03

And, it’s a browser based application essentially. And so that just kills most computers. So yeah, they went with audio over that, but it’s still like I thought they did like they do comedy nights right now. Oh, Mike Knight like that. So like in a way of testing all that stuff, which is really cool. So I’m excited to try them out at some point. Because again, that like not even be like doing something that if you do something, it’s funny and you get nothing.

Siobhan Richardson  37:34

john oliver is the best for this. He he quotes his his English upbringing as like delivering to a room of no responses. It’s like being home again. But yeah, there’s there’s that and that that’s where that’s, for me. That’s the perfect example of the hybrid art form that feels a little bit like theatre and a little bit like being on set where The non reaction and it’s the I guess, like going for your choices. Yeah. And just knowing that whatever comes out is is perfect in that moment.

Phil Rickaby  38:12

Yeah, just hoping like just having to assume that that everything is working in a way that in a way that we’re not used to, you know, we’ve, we’ve we’ve needed that audience response. And so doing something that give it to solo performance, or if it’s a if it’s a comedy show, or even if it’s just like any kind of comedy, like not being able to hear a response that’s like you don’t even you just like, Is this working? Right? When I guess you just have to assume.

Siobhan Richardson  38:39

Yeah, you do. And it’s easy to if someone were listening to this, I can see how they might assume that it’s it’s actors needing validation, but it’s not that it’s, it is skilled craftspeople guiding an experience for the people who have entrusted you with their time. Yeah. And to me, it’s part of the commitment to the audience Hmm. To be able to feel to feel where they are to hear where they are to hear how their energy is to hear. Especially like when I’m when I’m delivering a lecture or demonstration to be able to connect with him and go like, are you? Are you all nervous? Are you all excited? I’m the pacing of the piece changes completely, depending on how, what the audience has come in with, are you all tired? Are you all revved and ready to go? Everybody knows that the performance changes because of that. So again, that’s the weird hybrid thing of trusting that this this material, this pacing, this story, is engaging in its way. And I’m going to trust that my audience is going to be with me or they’re not whereas in theatre when we’re live or in a space with people we can, we can steward a little differently.

Phil Rickaby  39:50

Yeah, because it’s not just hearing them and it’s not just seeing them because, you know, depending on the size of the of the of the venue, you often can’t see them.

Siobhan Richardson  40:00

I mean, sometimes you can see a knife. It’s small because there’s light.

Phil Rickaby  40:03

But like, you can always feel them. And that’s sort of like an esoteric thing that’s hard to describe like, you know, when they’re not with you.

Siobhan Richardson  40:12

Mm hmm.

Phil Rickaby  40:14

And digitally that doesn’t really exist. And that’s a good thing though. Because we know that no matter how good a technology gets, it’s never going to be able to replace us being in the same room.

Siobhan Richardson  40:28

Exactly. And that’s, that’s what I’ve that’s what I’ve always thought of whenever people are worried about is, on camera. Going to replace theatre is watching things on devices going to replace theatre are at home movie theatres, like Netflix, is that going to replace the movie theatre experience? I really don’t think so. Some people prefer their solitude, which is excellent and great, and I can be one of those people at a time. But there is something about man I’ll never forget My experience of watching Snakes on a Plane in preview on a Tuesday night in a movie theatre and it was it was a great experience. or watching dear Evan Hanson. Yeah, and feeling the families and mothers and children around me. so moved by things that they had experienced are so familiar to them. Like that live thing can’t be replaced. So whenever anyone has, whenever I’m involved in conversation where people are worried about something replacing theatre or something replacing live performance, I just don’t think it’s ever gonna happen.

Phil Rickaby  41:39

I mean, essentially, we’ve been lamenting the death of theatre for the last hundred years or so. I hate I’m like, you know, radio was going to kill the theatre and then TV was going to kill radio and the theatre and then movies were going to kill TV, the radio and theatre, and like video games are going to kill movies and TV and radio and theatre and They’re all still there. There’s room for all of them. But there’s the one thing is that we need to get together, like people who’ve been in a really amazing theatre experience, understand why we need to be in that room. Yeah. And what it feels like when everybody breathes together.

Siobhan Richardson  42:21

Mm hmm. And this is where like, I’m one of things I’m really curious about is what drama education looks like. After that, yes. And, and there there’s been, especially as a sorry, I’m trying to formulate a thought, especially as we have a generation of people now who have grown up with their own cell phones. And we have a generation of people who have done an extraordinary amount of socialising either through text more than speech in some cases, or have done a lot of socialising over speech. While playing video games together, there, there’s different kinds of immediacy when media are involved. And that’s, again, I think one of the difficulties of performance through our computer screens.

Phil Rickaby  43:16

Mm hmm.

Siobhan Richardson  43:18

But it strikes me that I mean, there’s already instantly in some cases, there are people who are like, Oh my goodness, get me in a space with people again. And there’s some people who are like, Hey, this is a little bit scary yet, like I need some space to do that. And I’m, I’m really curious about how drama education and awarenesses like circles of awarenesses like circles of proximity and how that kind of, I wonder if there’s going to be a different kind of awareness of our physical spaces together, and how and how like even improv classes and dropping stuff or in high school drama, education and community work together and and our professional development how that is going to be affected by how that’s going to become, in some ways quite, quite necessary to help people navigate being in spaces together. And we’re that’s what we’re doing like in a in a drama class where you are mindfully just in space together and making stories together and relating to each other’s I guess vulnerability and relating to each other’s interests in a way that’s kind of structured. I mean, a lot of people who have had a number of high school drama classes who took those classes there is people are aware of the like, you leave the outside world outside, and we have we might have quite different relationships in the drama room than we do outside of this. But being able to set up that kind of parameter that kind of that kind of time and space for that kind of interaction. I’m I’m curious to see how some of some of our time in space together is going to shift. As we, as we make our way through the next year or so, while we, you know, wrangle with the science situation, as well as the, as well as our social situations,

Phil Rickaby  45:18

it’s gonna be very interesting because there’s, there’s when people go to an acting class or theatre, Theatre School, there’s a certain amount of control about what that what the space is. So when you’re in the space, now, you know, we’re all here in this space, like you were saying, but if we’re all on like a zoom call, hmm. We can’t necessarily control like, I can’t control what’s happening in your environment. Now, again, I might be in a house where your mom and your nieces and nephews are also there and trying to focus on the acting class. And that’s, there’s some real challenges to to that. Mm hmm. That you’re going to be I hope you know, we’ll have to navigate those when when the time comes, but it’s gonna be very interesting to to see, like how we how we do these classes in a virtual space

Siobhan Richardson  46:11

and and i think that’s part of even the theatre experience of like whether I’m whether I’m acting in something or I’m teaching or I’m, I’m there as an audience member. What’s happening in my reality around me is happening at the same time as the reality I’m trying to be engaged in. Yeah. And like that, like to me that that breaks my brain a little bit. I’m in a very lucky situation where I can generally have my own space, while other stuff is happening. But I was uh, I was, I was in part of a QA and someone’s like, someone’s dog kept coming in, and they’re like dad, bla bla bla bla bla, I’m talking to the people hang on a second. There’s why I think is so lovely and so human about it is as much as we’re engaging in one topic through the screen. There’s, I think there’s this wonderful moment of being able to see into somebody else’s reality, like the recognition of, I don’t know, maybe I’m there as an expert. But then the cat walks through the frame. And then there’s a moment of like, Oh, she’s doing it again, like maybe, maybe you see something different about that individual. And we’re reminded that, while this thing we’re doing right now is really important. There’s actually there’s, there’s another aspect of life. That’s really important while we do that, and as someone like, I’m speaking as someone who hasn’t always had the best work life balance, to put it mildly. There’s something there’s something in the shift of, I guess, in the shift of consciousness or in the shift of what this means about how we engage with our work, whatever our work is. When suddenly there’s five more people in the house than there usually are while you These things and there’s a kind of like, what happens to the in house dynamic? And what happens to my relationship with the people like What does professionalism look like when they’re like, hey, my kids walking through my frame to Yeah, you know, oh, my pipes just burst or it’s seven o’clock here. This is a big one. I think it’s 7pm here, and it’s noon over here. Right so you’re signing off people like Alright, good night. Um, I’m just starting my day.

Phil Rickaby  48:26

Yeah, yeah, yeah,

Siobhan Richardson  48:27

it’s it’s this fascinating kind of realities colliding. Whereas when we’re in a theatre, we are we’re pretty much in one reality together. When we’re watching a film together. We’re pretty much in one reality together. Yeah. My science fiction brain goes Oh, cool. We’re all experiencing like, I’m experiencing our shared reality and my reality and I glimpse into your reality I’m like, I’m, I’m up I’m walking through portals all over the place.

Phil Rickaby  48:55

That’s different way of seeing performance though. As like as like, you know, what is What is like, you know, we’re no longer seeing like a single space. Mm hmm. You know, as the audience is now contending with, with various spaces,

Siobhan Richardson  49:11

yeah.  And that I’ve witnessed myself thinking ways. Before we leave that, like, we talked before about, like, What does what does that performance look like? We talked about that design element. And it’s at this point, it’s kind of impossible to ask everyone to design their space the same way to be in costume in the same way to have a lighting state. That’s the same in the same way to have the same camera to have the same audio. It’s, there’s so many of these variables that the same kind of cohesive reality that we’re looking for when we’re watching a film or when we’re watching or that we work so hard for watching a film when we’re when we’re sitting in a theatre isn’t really available to us. Yeah, so it kind of it puts the focus on on a slightly different thing. It puts a different focus on on the words on the individual, character and actor In this kind of list this IATSE kind of meet it, and then and then, and then tip the cup over and this is this is the, the arrangement we have at this moment.

Phil Rickaby  50:10

Yeah, it’s interesting because, like, like, I’ve been thinking a lot, it’s sort of like piggybacking on the idea of, of curating spaces and things like that. I’ve been thinking a lot about what may what could make a dynamic performance?

Siobhan Richardson  50:25


Phil Rickaby  50:26

In this in the digital space?

Siobhan Richardson  50:29

Mm hmm.

Phil Rickaby  50:30

Like if we cannot, you know, because, you know, some of us have very small apartments. Yeah, if we cannot create a stage space.

Siobhan Richardson  50:37

Mm hmm.

Phil Rickaby  50:38

What can we do? And so I’ve started trying to think about things like okay, I have I have a, I have a webcam, and I have a, a camera on my laptop. So that’s to two states. Can I switch between those? Yes, I can actually I can use something like OBS. And I can make that happen. Open Broadcast System in case you’re looking at it, but I can also connect my phone to that. So now I have a third camera.

Siobhan Richardson  51:10

So I’m going to ask you at some point about using your camera using your phone. I’ve had some challenges with it. We don’t have to talk about it now. But yeah, that’s definitely something where it’s like, the harnessing technology. Yes, it is a tangent to this, but you’re talking about you were talking about how like how do we create a dynamic space so you’ve got

Phil Rickaby  51:28

like a switch between cameras and not only just like a stationary camera because of the way that your phone is, like, what if you could take your phone Mm hmm. Off the tripod simply and walk around your apartment with it or like take it into a different space? And and and that’s like one scene or one tangent and then come back. What if you had a small projector setup and you’re changing your scene by projecting on yourself? Oh, yeah, things like that to try to make the visuals a little bit more than my head in square box,

Siobhan Richardson  52:01

right? And so then you get perspectives to you can like yes do fairly standard things of like change the height of the camera. Are you are you really close is this camera really close to a wall so you do have a, what feels like a smaller space and then is this camera facing the other direction so it sees the whole room. So it feels like a bigger space. Like one of my webcams when we set it up, it makes the room look huge. which is exciting for we do because there’s so much movement. And so I found that like one of the classes I was teaching, I was specifically pointing it at a particular wall where I know I’ve got enough space to move back and forth so wouldn’t feel like such an enormous space. Yeah, because that cat earnestness wasn’t going to be helpful.

Phil Rickaby  52:45

Yeah, I have I have like that second webcam and I’ve noticed that like there’s the camera on my laptop, which basically shows my head and then I look over at the the webcam, and it’s like I have so much space Because it’s a little bit wider, so I’m like, oh, now there’s a little bit of movement space. And now if I use my phone in that, now we’ve added more.

Siobhan Richardson  53:08

Mm hmm. And this is where I think Dahlia was really quite brilliant in some of the things she was coaching me with, because we specifically set different depths. So that like the one was me very close. So most of me took up the frame, so it didn’t feel like such a big space. And then further back when you know, I’m just allowing essentially allowing myself to be captured from the waist up, or yet further back where it felt like a larger space. So sometimes it’s even making different dynamic use of a static camera. As well as those ideas you’re talking about. What can we switch cameras? Can we make the camera move? Do we do we put them weird placements? Like do we put one on the floor? Do we put one on the ceiling? And that’s some stuff that like through cracks and counter productions that some of the stuff that we were playing with too was what’s the difference between when the camera is like down right or down left or Yeah, what if this is for the crane shot? So we can move the camera now, of course in that we had a crew to work with us. I’m I’m reminded that a lot of us at this moment we’re working like by yourselves you’re if you’re really lucky you’ve got one other person if you’re wickedly lucky, maybe you’ve got two maybe you got two other people so there’s a lot because in a sec a moment ago I was like, why am I thinking solo? Why am I thinking solo so much? Oh, right. Because for so many of us, we are we’re it’s ourselves doing something I say we I’m one of the lucky ones who has other people I can work with at the most. Yeah,

Phil Rickaby  54:35

but I think like in terms of thinking about solo I don’t think you’re the only one because I know when I’m watching a scene that several different squares I find it difficult to treat that as a as a scene. Hmm. It’s hard to take out of the end yet. The the solo performer because they A cohesion and there’s only one window that we’re looking at. It’s a little bit easier to look at that and be drawn in and not taken out by various various squares and and, and Brady Bunch layouts. Yes.

Siobhan Richardson  55:15

Yep. Oh, hey, zoom, another another feature, not only maybe can the host determine the window arrangement, but maybe even window size. Yeah, that would be,

Phil Rickaby  55:27

that would be great. I also want to see like, because right now we’re doing there’s a lot of a lot of readings that are like, of existing plays. Mm hmm. Um, I would love to see somebody adapt a Shakespeare play for zoom.

Siobhan Richardson  55:44

Like straight up adapted with the, with the recognition

Phil Rickaby  55:49

without recognition that we’re, yeah, that they’re not in the same room. Mm hmm. And, like, what can we do with that?

Siobhan Richardson  55:58

Think of like Romeo and Juliet, like The balcony. So

Phil Rickaby  56:00

that’s the one that My mind went to actually. Yeah, it was Romeo and Juliet. Because I think you could do it. But like

Siobhan Richardson  56:09

Missummer has some potential.

Phil Rickaby  56:11

Yeah, yeah. But like these are, oh my god, midsummer, I’m just gonna go off on a tangent, but it’s summer if it takes place on zoom, and the mechanicals are trying to do their show. But there’s latency and lag and oh my god. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Siobhan Richardson  56:26

Oh, but, but the time is coming. I’m looking forward to as well some of the pieces that’ll that will come out of this. I know some people have already expressed exhaustion with like, and then we’ll have the quarantine pieces. Yes. But I think there is there is some cleverness to be had. I mean, doesn’t have to be clever. But I think there’s some there’s also some of the truth to be had that does have to speak to this is what our reality looks like. Right now. And, and there there will be a different reality in The future. But for people who are writing and creating right now there is there is a kind of documenting what’s happening right now and how people are affected a friend of mine is, is writing a piece is writing a musical theatre piece that is very much about like, the beginning of quarantine, and how this how this relationship develops throughout quarantine, which is I’m very excited. I can’t wait.

Phil Rickaby  57:26

I’m also excited to see not just these plays that come out of quarantine. But like when this is over, can we revisit those and take them from their digital space and find ways to bring them to the stage?

Siobhan Richardson  57:39

Oh, for sure. That one I’m like, You bet. We got that one. Yeah, we got that. I can think of a couple of companies of a couple pieces that have that had started to tackle the idea of like, how do I show someone having a video call or answering texts and that kind of thing. And displaying that in a digital I wonder about the feeling of it though. Yes. And I think oh man, well, a piece was it. Oh, I can’t remember now. But there was my mind was cast back to something I had seen where part of the theme had to do with isolation and the relief of seeing people again. And I was like, we will all play that moment very differently now.

Phil Rickaby  58:23

Yes, Yes, we will. We’ve,

Siobhan Richardson  58:26

and we’ve all lived it. And then like the relief of being able to hold someone’s hand again, and even like, in some ways, I don’t know the relief of being able to like walk around a store again.

Phil Rickaby  58:41

I have been finding myself thinking about the joy of being able to go out to a restaurant for breakfast. Hmm You know, little things like that.

Siobhan Richardson  58:53

Oh, I just I just had a business idea. Oh, man. Like a little like a restaurant in the park. Yeah.

Phil Rickaby  58:58

Oh, goodness. Right. Why? Apparently in Korea they’re doing that.

Siobhan Richardson  59:04

Well there you go. See ya.

Phil Rickaby  59:07

Go there you go. Now as we as we start to draw to a close one of the things that I’ve been asking people of late is, you know, as we’re sort of isolating and finding ourselves and making connections and sort of like just trying to deal with the fact there’s a general feeling of anxiousness in the air, what is giving you joy these days? What is what is what is taking you out of the anxious space and and allowing you to, to enjoy yourself?

Siobhan Richardson  59:38

I’ve actually I’ve a few things I am. I am so excited about the stage combat workshop that happened online. As I think I mentioned, I’ve I’ve been entertaining being I have been a student and I have been a teacher online for some time. So I’m really excited that people are on board with that. I love I love sharing Instagram Stories of like, here’s this workout thing I love when it comes to back. Like I love the fitness challenges and stuff. I love the Let’s share something that way. Yes, yeah. Phone calls with people have been great watching a movie at the same time. So you can you can kind of, especially if it’s when you watch you can kind of talk through it, I guess not through movies not all the time. But every once in a while I’m just like, I feel like I really want to talk through this movie. I’m sorry. A being in being in our space. Matt and I moved to a tobacco and I promptly was away quite a bit. So it’s been really great to just be in the space and be at home. Hmm, we started fostering a cat just before quarantine so it’s been really fun to watch her get comfortable and she’s a little bit old and she was very overweight when she came to us. So like we set up little obstacle courses for her. We kind of try to convince her that she can jump don’t want to go too far like I don’t I don’t need her being on top of cabinets and throwing stuff but it’s been really fun to watch her get fit and biking like getting out to to cycle getting outside has been good video games and friend of mine loaned me guitar so I’m finally learning my guitar.

Phil Rickaby  1:01:22


Siobhan Richardson  1:01:22

Yeah apparently guitar stores are the busiest they’ve ever been.

Phil Rickaby  1:01:25

I’m sure they are. I think I think guitar stores what else

Siobhan Richardson  1:01:34

cooking everyone said oh

Phil Rickaby  1:01:35

my god everybody’s cooking. Oh my god. Go to the grocery store and I’m like where’s like I don’t even need the flour but where is it?

Siobhan Richardson  1:01:42

Where is it right? I got I got a line. If you ever if you ever run out I got I

Phil Rickaby  1:01:48

thought they were ordering a bag of flour and they were ordering an industrial bag of flour. Amazing.

Siobhan Richardson  1:01:58

Amazing. So Bunz Oliver. Fantastic.

Phil Rickaby  1:02:03

Thank you so much as always a great conversation.

Siobhan Richardson  1:02:05

Thank you, Phil. It’s such a good time.

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Host @philrickaby is a huge fan of Eldritch Theatre, and is super excited to see this. In fact, watch our Instagram on Tuesday for something exciting! https://t.co/BadEkTAFji
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