Emerson Stage: 2020-2021 Season

derek christiansen
transmedia consultant


As all of the performing arts world was working to respond to the closure of theaters in response to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, I worked with Emerson Stage at Emerson College to restage their entire season for digital live steam, while working to maintain as much educational value and practical experience as possible for the production and acting students.

In collaboration with the staff, directors, and students, we created a system of virtual blocking using “blocking boards” to denote the performer’s location on screen, their framing in camera, and where they are physically standing and looking in the room to create compositions moment to moment in each show.

As we experimented, we steadily added new technologies to further push the boundaries of remote performace - vMix to process and compose the cameras live, WATCHOUT media server to handle the background replacement of the green screens and add additional effects processing to the cameras via NDI, and SnapCamera filters for local effects from the performers on their own individual computers. 

We also created a system of local microphone and music playback via Dante and QLab to allow for solo singers to have the music playing back locally with no delay, and mixed live with their microphones on their own computers from a remote audio engineer before being sent to the livestream, to minimize the effects of latency.

As the transmedia consultant, I was present for all production meetings, worked one-on-one with each director to explore the possibilities of working in the digital medium, consulted with the student designers and their advisors on working for camera with green screens, and trained all of the students programming and operating the vMix and WATCHOUT systems to livestream each show. I also acted as the liason between the programmers and the directors during tech, helping to communicate between the different video call and local communication systems to keep everyone informed of our progress while we were each in seperate rooms, in locations across the country. 


Men On Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus, Co-directed by Sarah Hickler and Maureen Shea.  Learn more 

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
by Bertolt Brecht, directed by Timothy Douglas.

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based on the books by Don Freeman; adapted for the stage by Barry Kornhauser; directed by Melia Bensussen; movement direction by Nathaniel Justiniano.
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This Golden Day: A virtual musical
presented in cooperation with Live & In Color; conceived and created by Annie G. Levy & Devanand Janki; directed by Devanand Janki; music direction by Jonathan Goldberg; featuring songs written by Masi Asare, Joshua Betancourt, Nancy Cheser, Maggie-Kate Coleman, David Dabbon, Tia DeShazor, Timothy Huang, Trent Jefford, Kim Jinhyoung, Erato A. Kremmyda, Yan Li, Jaime Lozano, Marcus Perkins, SEVAN, Rona Siddiqui, Paulo K Tiról, and Jessica Wu.
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by José Rivera, directed by Tatyana-Marie Carlo.
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by Branden Jacob-Jenkins, directed by Annie G. Levy.
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NewFest New Play Workshop: Interior of the Artist Without Her Sister
by Masha Obolensky, directed by Melia Bensussen.
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NewFest Rod Parker Award-Winning Going to California
by Sabrina Sexauer '22, directed by Joe Antoun.
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Spring Awakening
book and lyrics by Steven Sater; music by Duncan Sheik; based on the play by Frank Wedekind; directed by Diane DiCroce; music direction by Sariva Goetz; choreographed by Ella C. Shaw; intimacy/fight direction by Ted Hewlett.  Learn more 


Photos by Alix Bigley