River muse

The art of Zoom

Posted 5/5/20

Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. After weeks of creative paralysis and compulsive baking brought on by existential fear, the need to move beyond confinement overtakes us and we expand our …

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River muse

The art of Zoom


Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. After weeks of creative paralysis and compulsive baking brought on by existential fear, the need to move beyond confinement overtakes us and we expand our universe to those who also Zoom.

Some Zoom for work, others for art or exercise, still others to celebrate with family from afar. Apparently, some Zoom to hijack others who Zoom.

My daughter is working from our home during quarantine. She works with middle-schoolers in NYC and warned her managers against using the app with children due to hacking. The day they were supposed to start classes, the Department of Education mandated against the use of Zoom for that reason. They later switched to a more secure app.

Daily use of online meeting apps can be exhausting. After a week of back-to-back meetings, she led a mini-revolt calling for downtime between meetings and a lunch break mid-day. Those rules are already encoded in the labor laws, but the pandemic has thrown us into a new reality.

My pre-pandemic weekly exercise routine included a yoga class at The Chi Hive, one or two water aerobics classes at Woodloch and, my favorite, a Pilates class with Maggie Moore at the Pilates Barn in Callicoon. Part of the enjoyment of that routine was its social engagement. Another was the act of going somewhere, stopping locally afterward, seeing friends along the way. Being out in the world.

A friend in Costa Rica, Mary Byerly, started “Zooming” her yoga class from her studio, Panacea Yoga, when the virus shut down her usually busy practice and B&B. I was an early adopter—it’s been the best use of Zoom for me so far. In only a few sessions I realized I could turn off the video of me while following the class, meaning I don’t have to worry about how I look doing down dog (deeper frown lines and bosom wrinkles.) This privacy mode has greatly increased my ability to breathe deeply as I no longer have to simultaneously suck in my belly. (Another vanity issue since the baking marathon that was April.)

My weekly schedule also includes a weekly rehearsal for a slated production of The Realistic Joneses by the Side of The Road Theatre Company of Milford, PA. There is nowhere to hide in this Zoom. I set up my office/yoga room for on-camera work: a swipe of lipstick and a flouff of hair, careful to turn off the ceiling light and set the camera angle from above to lessen the appearance of neck wrinkles. Yes, I realize people are dying but a woman has standards.

I have seen a couple of Zoom theatre productions recently and if this is the future of live theatre, we are going to need some technical assistance. In the first Zoom production I witnessed, the sound did not sync with the actor’s voices, making it almost impossible to watch. We closed our eyes and listened as if it were a radio play. The next go-round was perfect.

This week, the Sullivan County Community College Theater Department, led by Jessica Barkl, is presenting two plays on the Zoom platform using Facebook Live. The technical aspects of scene changes using more than a dozen actors in a live video stream are challenging. In the first presentation last Friday night, the whole production was thrown off the platform for no discernible reason, midway through. Half the audience was lost as the production switched to YouTube Live and proceeded. I’m told the Sunday matinee went off without a hitch.

We all have a ways to go to meet the challenges of Zoom life. By the time we get good at it, may its need be only a memory.


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Tuesday, May 12, 2020