The Iceberg: The Deal With a Devil Story — With a Twist
June 11th, 9PM EDT
Via the Fringe Livestream
The Iceberg is being remounted for Fringe Live Stream! I cannot express how excited I am for remounting this play. I'm so excited I'm writing this article about Fringe, the original production, and the challenges of reworking a piece to work in a Virtual Theatre medium. Our media release is also included!
Covid-19 has ended live Fringe Festivals across the world and . . . it's a disappointment. I mean, theatre artists already knew that main stage productions were cancelled when the rulings of gatherings of no more than 5-25 people were announced. But the FRINGE? Somehow, that seemed almost more devastating.
Fringe is a huge deal for theatre artists, after all. It's a chance to work hard on a show, to try new material, and to create artwork for an enthusiastic audience. Fringe shows are drawn by lottery, so theatre artists have a chance to produce work without any censorship.
Fringe itself is a magical time. Not just for audiences who LOVE low-priced independent theatre, but for the theatre community at large. For many independent artists, theatre students, up and coming artists, or people who just LOVE the Fringe atmosphere . . . Fringe festivals shutting down truly was a great tragedy for theatre artists.
But—BUT—a few ambitious theatre producers found a way to make Fringe virtual. That adds to the excitement because not only is Fringe back on—Fringe is now truly going experimental. Not just in the show content, but in the show medium.
Back in 2014, I had the delight of producing The Iceberg for the first time. The Iceberg was a one act play I had working on for years, and for a while had reached the "bane of my existence" phase as a playwright. I just couldn't get the ending just right, yenno? Then, lo and behold, it was finally finished. My performance company at the time, Megakrenn Productions, was draw in the lottery. It was good to go.
It was a new piece of work at the time, and my very first time directing ever. I felt so lucky! How often is it that, first time out the gate, you work with a fantastic cast and crew?
After that Fringe run, I had a play that had already been put on. It was a one-hour show. Honestly, there wasn't much market for it to be remounted by me, or by anyone (especially with theatre companies wanting "world premiers" predominantly these days).
I honestly thought that was the only time I was going to produce that show. That's why after its 2014 run, I took the notes I got from the performance and revised the piece before publishing the play online. As far as I was concerned, that was it.
That is, until Joanne (my coproducer from Joie de Survivre) got drawn in the Fringe Live Stream lottery (YAY!). We were originally submitting our show Love Letters for Juliet for the online Fringe. However, when we were drawn for the June 11th show, we knew we needed a backup plan since our timeline for Love Letters for Juliet put performance in late August.
What piece was good and ready to go?
The Iceberg was. It was already written, tried, and tested—and I was confident it could be adapted with relative ease. We cast talented actors we knew and trusted, and immediately got to preparations.
Remounted Version Cast and Crew
Joanne Roberts as Angela
Karam Daoud as Gabe
Katie Buckberger as Lilith
Written and Directed by
Makrenna Rose Sterdan
Now, as the playwright and director for this piece, my first job was simple: figure out how to adapt the piece for a virtual setting.
How hard could that be?
Well . . . let's see . . . first, there is a main decision to make:
(1) do we rework the show so the characters are operating in virtual space? Like, is the script reworked so the characters now talking to each other over Facetime? Or
(2) do we adapt the piece through directing and cheat the cameras/setting so that it looks like the characters are occupying the same space?
Decision one made: the characters are STILL in a coffee shop. We are going to cheat the cameras so that it looks like they're occupying the same space.
Then, there are other decisions to be made from a playwright standpoint (to name a few):
(1) the audience is at home, and might not be fully invested in the show unless there's audience participation, or something in it for them (in addition to an entertaining story). For a show designed for sitting and watching, what can be added to hook the audience?
(2) we're using TECHNOLOGY to produce this version. In the original show, we had sound and lighting cues. If we're performing over a virtual, live streaming platform . . . what technology can we take advantage of to make this a memorable, unique experience? This is something to be worked on in the script, and it's almost completely uncharted territory—WE HAVE TO HAVE FUN WITH THIS!
(3) how do we avoid it being just "characters talking." I think for live theatre, it's easier to get away with characters just sitting and talking in a space. But for virtual theatre? There are shows on Netflix that do the same thing, they're more convenient to access, and have a higher budget. To pull this off, we need to get creative, and make this good.
Adapting a piece for a virtual space presents many challenges, but even more opportunities for experimentation. Bringing The Iceberg to a virtual medium with this remounting is an exciting chance as a playwright to revisit, rework, and fall in love with this play again.
Thank you Fringe Live Stream for creating this opportunity!
Current cast and crew—let's get to work!