Feel The Spirit

Shotgun Players, March 2021

streaming producer, leanna keyes smiling inside a green bordered circle

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Feel The Spirit had me reinvent the wheel I’d been building since the pandemic began. I’d spent months getting the audience out of Zoom and onto platforms like YouTube and Vimeo… and now we needed a designed show that took place, textually, in a Zoom meeting with the audience and actors together. And one of the ‘actors in Zoom’ was actually three actors, in different parts of the country, playing God! Through some very intense, precise planning of exactly how to manipulate Zoom to do what we needed, we pulled it off. Plus I got to be God in DMs with audience members, ha!

Feel The Spirit

A commissioned piece set in a church community during the early pandemic, this interactive production happened exclusively on Zoom… as far as the audience knew!

Shotgun’s world premiere Zoom commission followed a young, queer pastor attempting to navigate her new congregation’s shift to online worship due to COVID-19. As seasons change outside and the flat timeline of quarantine continues, the church fights to maintain a practice that rotates around fellowship and community across generations and cultures when they can’t hug, cook, or sing together. 

A Note from the Director: “What excites me about Feel the Spirit is that it asks questions of me. How do we gather, hold relationships and communities together, and what happens when those communities struggle to hold us? What guides us in our times of struggle and isolation? Feel the Spirit speaks to our need for community and finding new ways of connecting in the midst of a pandemic. This is what our theatre communities have been struggling with as well. How do we hold on to each other, our rituals, our ability to share space when we cannot breathe the same air. How do we share stories and “break bread” through a screen? And how do we hold on to faith? Faith in the power of this calling. And what if you are a new Pastor to the community, queer and Latina, what if your path forward means change for that community. Are they willing to change, have difficult conversations and embrace all of you? Can you open up and listen before it’s too late? How do you hold onto your calling? How do you hold on to your faith? I don’t have the answers, but I am open to the questions. Are you?

– Elizabeth Carter, Director

Shotgun Players is a company of artists determined to create bold, relevant, affordable theatre that inspires and challenges audiences and artists alike to re-examine our lives, our community, and the ever-changing world around us. They believe that it’s not enough to create exceptional theatre; they are also committed to making a difference in the community. Shotgun Players is dedicated to keeping ticket prices affordable and offers pay-what-you-can performances for the opening week of each production. Through their Make a Difference (M.A.D.) campaign, they are able to offer $7 tickets to patrons who are 25 years of age and younger. They also take pride in supporting local businesses by featuring goods from neighbors in their lobby and offering programming that speaks directly to their neighbors by putting their stories onstage. www.shotgunplayers.org

Feel The Spirit Creative Team:

Elizabeth Carter – Director

Noelle Viñas – Playwright

Leanna Keyes – Production Design, Stage Manager

Laura Brueckner – Dramaturg

Transcend Streaming – Streaming Producer


Feel The Spirit featured the following performers: 

Jean Forsman, Lauren Andrei Garcia, Akaina Ghosh, Linda Girón, Vero Maynez, Fred Pitts, & J Riley Jr.

“engaging…wonderfully creative…compelling…refreshing.”

– Emily Mendel | Berkeleyside

“Shotgun is to be applauded, however, for pulling this off with nary a technological glitch and taking on a subject that belongs on stage now…I would come back just to see Maynez; she really is a wonder.”

– Tony Frankel | Stage and Cinema

“a stirring, thought-provoking production…very enjoyable.”

– Brother Mark 7 Theatre

“the latest production from Berkeley’s ever-adventurous Shotgun Players is an agonizingly of-the-moment, tailored-for-teleconferencing commission”

– Jim Gladstone | Bay Area Reporter

“It’s a relief to see a play that doesn’t pretend not to be on Zoom. And the cast, under director Elizabeth Carter, is strong.”

– Jean Schiffman | SF Examiner