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Noises Off Article


Published on
28th March 2021

Issy Flower has Zoom fatigue before the festival’s even started

NSDF hasn’t even started yet, and I’m spreadeagled on my bed with the heating up, feeling exhausted. I have been struck with the feeling of total inertia you get the morning after an after-party, post-show blues without there being a show, and a general lack of desire to do anything. It feels like I’ve already done a week at the festival – and it doesn’t even kick off until Saturday. 

To be fair, this has been going on for a while. After months of creating, watching, and reviewing online productions, I’m pooped. The feeling of effort it takes to watch these shows, divorced from the pleasurable social aspects and change in scenery found in normal times, is often immense, and incredibly disproportionate to their quality. Some I’ve even watched on 1.5x speed just because the thought of staring at a screen for two hours fills me with dread. I have to do this for university, for work, to write, to see my friends – and having to do it for theatre as well is exhausting. 

NSDF last year was a baptism of fire – a week-long whirlwind of workshops and talks, which were a brilliant distraction during the first lockdown. However, it was also incredibly difficult to keep up with. Talk after talk after talk, often tightly packed together, leaving maybe five minutes for a coffee break before plunging back into the next career development webinar.

Consequently, I’ve started worrying for my critical faculties. With the excessive amount of screentime this week, I’m worried that when I watch the amazing shows lined up by the festival, I’ll be thinking about the next workshop, or my tea, or working out if I can fit in a five minute walk before the quiz. This is even more of a problem when some of them, like SCRUBBERS, have an audience interaction element. What if I’m no longer up to interacting? I’m worried that I’ll have nothing to say and will have exhausted my brain on the five hundred other things I’ve been doing that day, and will spend three hundred words making vague, boring statements that offer neither critical feedback nor an interesting read. I’m scared that I’ll go into a workshop with little enthusiasm and get nothing out of it because this is the sixth one I’ve been to in a row, and I’m sick of the Zoom icon flaring up at me, mocking me. 

I know deep down that this won’t happen. I’m being over-dramatic – this is not a shock. These experiences are a lockdown thing: the natural consequence of months and months of screens. Everyone’s in the same boat, and the truth is that from the first minute of the first show I watch, I’ll get that feeling again. That pre-show, orchestra-tuning-up, rustle-of-programmes feeling – a glorious anticipation and reinvigoration of love for drama. 

If I feel up to clicking the Zoom link, of course.

@noffmag /