Almost, Maine

Community theater is back … almost.

Actors have been busy rehearsing with their director, but audiences won’t gather in a traditional theater setting to watch the local production of “Almost, Maine.” Instead, they will log onto their computers and partake in socially distanced entertainment.

On July 9, the Southeast Alabama Community Theatre will present the play for home viewing through a protected link on SEACT’s website, seact.com.

“It’s an interesting amalgamation — it’s not live theater as people know it and it’s not a movie,” director Sherri Lipscomb said. “It is a hybrid in between that SEACT has done to adapt to what’s going on in the world.”

The audience will register to receive the link and a password to view the recorded production. The performance will be recorded under an adapted licensing agreement with the play’s publisher and then streamed for the audience July 9 at 7 p.m. The performance is free to watch, although there will be a donation link with a suggested $5 per viewer.

“Almost, Maine” is a contemporary play by John Cariani set in the fictional town of Almost, Maine — a town so far north it is almost in Canada and almost doesn’t exist because the residents never got around to organizing it. Set on a cold, clear winter night, the play is a series of vignettes depicting how the town’s residents fall in and out love.

“‘Almost, Maine’ will be different, but we hope just as entertaining,” SEACT General Manager Jennifer Doherty said in a news release.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Doherty said SEACT is focused on providing live theater experiences to the community while keeping public safety and concerns about virus transmission a priority.

SEACT has held summer youth camps online through Zoom, a videoconferencing platform, and approached Lipscomb about directing a socially-distanced production.

Lipscomb, a former Dothan resident who now lives in Mississippi, said she was happy to be involved. Lipscomb was active with SEACT when she lived in the area.

The play has very few props and costumes and because the separate vignettes do not have crossover storylines, “Almost, Maine” works well for an online theater production, Lipscomb said.

Lipscomb and the play’s actors have been rehearsing via Zoom. Many of the actors involved are actually couples who live together and have been quarantined together, Lipscomb said. Those that don’t will only come together for the recorded performance.

“Some of these folks will never be together. They are both rehearsing in two separate spaces and will be recorded in two separate spaces through Zoom,” Lipscomb said. “Some of them are doing a hybrid — they’re rehearsing separately but when they get ready to record they’ll be in the same space. So, it’s really SEACT’s attempt to keep the creative juices flowing for all of these 19 people involved in this production. And it gives SEACT an opportunity to show the community that they’re still working and that they’re still there to provide a creative outlet for the community.”

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