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Q&A with Cheryl Platz, Director of Cupid on Mute

By August 11, 2021August 20th, 2021Shows

Cupid on Mute cast photos. Where chat plays Cupid as our contestants seek digital romance.

CUPID ON MUTE: A Romantic Improv Show Online opens on Sept. 4th at 11:00 am PDT and will run every Saturday in September. Join us on this hilarious journey, where chat plays Cupid as our characters seek remote romance through a Zoom window. As our lovebirds get to know each other, over the four performances, YOU, the audience can set them up on 1:1 “dates” or set obstacles against them. Which couple will earn Cupid’s Arrow and unmute their love?

The second digital season at Unexpected Productions launches September 4 with our groundbreaking new show, Cupid on Mute! We sat down and chatted with the show’s director, Cheryl Platz about this hilarious new show.

Watch the show for FREE on Saturdays in September at 11 AM Pacific at the Unexpected Productions Twitch Channel – no app or account required.

How did you end up creating Cupid on Mute?

I’ve been helping Unexpected Productions strengthen our Twitch performance game for over a year now. I’ve long been fascinated with the culture of Twitch: audiences expect individual interactivity. They can tune into Netflix if they just want to watch something. Folks tune into Twitch because they want to be part of something. And our chat suggestions let you do that, but I’ve always felt we could go farther. At the same time, I’ve been grappling with how to make online shows sustainable for us. How do we get back to paying actors for their time when we can’t sell tickets?

And of course, it’s hard not to think about the circumstances we find ourselves in. What are people thinking about? What will they find cathartic? I’ve got plenty of friends struggling with romance right now, and just look at Netflix – they just released TWO new seasons of romantic game shows.

All of that came together when I got the image of Cupid’s arrow piercing the microphone to mute the call. Of COURSE Cupid would be terrible at Zoom. No wonder it’s so hard dating online! From there, the thoughts I had about interactivity on Twitch and sustainability of the arts all fell into place in a super fun way.


 

“I’ve long been fascinated with the culture of Twitch: audiences EXPECT individual interactivity. They can tune into Netflix if they just want to watch something. Folks tune into Twitch because they want to be PART of something. And our chat suggestions let you do that, but I’ve always felt we could go farther.”


How does an online improv show compare to onstage?

For the actors, it’s a huge adjustment. Particularly as comedic actors, we become addicted to feedback – instantaneous audio feedback. Applause, laughter. You get none of that online. I’m lucky in that I’ve been working on Twitch for 5 years now, so I’ve had time to adjust to working in that echo chamber. For a lot of actors plunged into the deep end last year, it’s still a long road to being confident enough in your own work that you don’t need the immediate validation.

For audience members, online can be a special kind of magic. You lose the camaraderie you get with strangers who laugh with you, sure. But when you put a suggestion into chat and your TV talks back to you? Even though I KNOW the people on the other end of the TV, that’s still magic to me. And keep in mind there are lots of audience members in other time zones, or folks for whom a trip to Seattle isn’t always an option. Online shows can be a lot more accessible for a lot more people.

How will the audience be participating?

This show is designed to be highly interactive. Some online improv shows just take a few suggestions upfront, and we’ll certainly get some traditional chat suggestions.

That’s where the new interactivity comes in. You don’t need to buy tickets to watch Cupid on Mute – it’s always free. But if you’d like to support our 501(c)3 theater with a donation (that may be tax-deductible for you) – you can choose a donation incentive that will actually influence the events onscreen in real-time. Want two of the Romantics to go on a date? Buy them a 1:1 session. Want to throw off a budding romance? Mute one of their microphones. Want to sow discord in the house? Send one person to the confessional booth and let the rest of the “house” listen in. It’s like the audience gets to sit in the writers’ room with us, helping shape the next scenes.

What can the audience expect? What do you want them to take away?

Expect chaos! Every week’s episode will be fundamentally different as our Romantics work towards finding love and declaring a winning couple. I’ve seen this kind of interactivity go crazy, and I think anything can happen once we give the audience the reins on our scene work. But what I want our audience to take away is a genuine connection to our characters. At UP we pride ourselves on genuine storytelling and characters, and in between the chaotic moments, this is a show about finding love and connection in unlikely circumstances.


“Expect chaos! Every week’s episode will be fundamentally different as our Romantics work towards finding love and declaring a winning couple. I’ve seen this kind of interactivity go crazy, and I think anything can happen once we give the audience the reins on our scene work.”


What are the surprises in show rehearsals and development?

We’re still not quite halfway through, but I would say the biggest surprise so far is the fluidity we’re discovering in unexpected places. I think that’s one thing “Zoomprov” has struggled with in the past – awkward scene transitions and interruptions. When we rehearse more intentionally as a fixed group, that helps. But I think having the strong character motivations is also greasing the wheels – folks have a good reason for coming in and out of scenes. It’s causing me to rethink some of my episode structure to think about how to leave room for that sense of play.

To learn more about Cupid On Mute including the cast and Tiltify information, visit the Cupid On Mute Season 1 show page.

About the Director: Cheryl Platz

Cheryl Platz is the creator, director, and host of “Cupid on Mute.” A professional stage, screen, and voice-over actress based in the Seattle area, Cheryl has been a member of the professional performing and teaching improv ensemble at Unexpected Productions for over 13 years. In 2020 she also assumed the role of Artistic Associate of Digital Productions, helping the theatre develop a multi-year digital creative strategy. In addition to Seattle TheatreSports, Cheryl has been seen in a wide variety of UP mainstage productions, including A(n Improvised) Christmas Carol, Cat on a Hot Tin Streetcar, The Danger Games, Build Your Own Musical, Nietzsche: The Musical, and more.

When she’s not on the Unexpected Productions stage, Cheryl is best known for her role as “Ma1nFram3” in Shadowrun: Corporate SINs, an interactive Internet TV show and live-play RPG that ran on Twitch’s HyperRPG for 65 episodes. Her resume includes a wide variety of live broadcast and video productions. Around the Puget Sound, she has performed with a wide variety of companies and venues: from the Triple Door to Theatre off Jackson, from the Edmonds Driftwood Players to Bumbershoot and the Emerald City ComicCon. For 10 years, she performed with Seattle Experimental Theater as a member of the original cast of Where No Man Has Gone Before, the hit improvised Star Trek parody. Cheryl is represented by MAM for film, video, and voice-over work.