Scott Button’s Desiree AMA joins eight other performances for e-Volver, a festival created in response to the physical distancing requirements of COVID-19, replacing Upintheair Theatre’s annual rEvolver Fest.
Reflecting the time we are living in now, the new creations will be accessed online through a variety of digital platforms. “The presentation aims to provide an output for cutting-edge artists to experiment with new ways to collaborate, innovate, and tell timely stories,” say organizers in a media release.
To be presented online via Zoom, Button’s Desiree AMA is the story of the mononym-named YouTube personality who, amid quarantine, feels a need to reinvigorate her content. Taking to the internet, she undertakes a live “ask-me-anything” session, answering questions from fans and connecting with people who call in.
“It’s funny and hopefully insightful about the ways we depict ourselves online and how challenging it is to be authentic,” says Button. “It also addresses this current moment and the ennui that sets in.”
Last seen at the Pull Festival in 2014 and remounted at the Shift Festival a year later, Button explains that Desiree AMA does not extend her original story. Instead, it picks up six years after a clip from the original show ended up online and started her YouTube career.
Don’t worry if you missed the original show, though, as it isn’t necessary to know what happened in Desiree’s previous outing. “We don’t want it alienate the audience because we are assuming most people haven’t seen it, and if they have, it was quite a few years ago,” he says.
Desiree is a character that has stayed with Button over the years. “I’ve always been interested in her; she never left, Every once in a while, she pops into my conscience,” he says.
The e-Voler Fest has allowed Button to reconnect with the character he describes as a lightning rod of honesty and bravery. “When I saw the e-Volver submission, I texted Megs, and we put together the idea quickly over a weekend.”
Megs is Vancouver actor Meaghan Chenosky who will reprise the role of Desiree.
“You don’t get to do very often,” says Chenosky of the opportunity to portray Desiree once again. “I get very attached to characters. It’s kind of like falling in love a little bit. You get to know them, and suddenly you understand this person so well, and they disappear, and you mourn that sometimes.”
Calling it a treat to be able to have another run-in with her after so many years, Chenosky is looking forward to exploring how Desiree has changed. “It’s like going back to a book, and it feels completely different because you’re different,” she says. “It’s a real gift. She is funny because she is honest, and I enjoy that a lot.”
To be presented live each night on Zoom over its three-night run, Chenosky says she is terrified and excited to work in such a different medium from her usual work on stage.
“With theatre, I get stage fright, but the energy you get from people is what makes that stop for me,” she says. “I think it will feel completely different, but it is a cool new challenge, and there is always something to learn from being uncomfortable in art.”
Button is excited about the possibilities the mash-up of theatre and technology will bring. “There is the liveness of theatre but also with the addition of the film medium that has been intriguing to ponder.”
“There is also a degree of being uncontrolled by technology,” adds Chenosky. “If something goes wrong on Zoom for some reason, it just happens. It’s going to be a whole new world of things to consider.”
“We’re really at such a brave new frontier in terms where we are when it comes to theatre,” continues Button. “There has been so much progress and innovation in the sector as a result of what is happening. E-Volver audiences will get a glimpse at something extremely contemporary, not only for its content but for its form as well.”
Desiree AMA will stream online via Zoom on June 19, 20 & 24. Visit upintheairtheatre.com for more information on it and other shows at this year’s e-Volver Festival.