The cast of the virtual production of "Drumming With Anubis."

El Paso-born actor/playwright/director William Windle is taking on a new challenge, directing what appears to be the first socially distanced, live theater experience produced for Zoom.

Drumming With Anubis,” written by David Templeton and produced by New York acting coach Ted Wold, offers theatergoers and artists a live performance during the pandemic. It can be seen on Zoom Sunday and Monday.

William Windle

“As someone who has devoted my life to theatre, news of the pandemic hit hard. The idea of bringing people together to watch a live theatre show was not realistic, and with the number of cases growing, Broadway shutting down, theaters of all shapes and sizes halting their seasons, we wondered ‘how long till we can perform again?’ The answer was unknown,” Windle said in an email to El Paso Matters.

The idea for a virtual production of “Drumming With Anubis,” which premiered in 2019 in the San Francisco Bay area, came in Wold’s acting classes, which like much of the world shifted to Zoom when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“Zoom classes soon branched into weekly readings, hosted by the multi-talented New-York actress Mary Lauren. Actors are sent a script a few days prior to the reading and are welcome to show up in costume. Soon enough, this online platform was starting to look like the solution to the absence of live theatre,” Windle said.

Wold approached Windle in April about directing a live performance that would have actors in separate locations. 

“As director, I worked with the cast and crew on various performance techniques to give the illusion that everyone is in the same place. The cast and crew have done a marvelous job of executing the techniques and I believe audiences will be awestruck upon viewing,” Windle, a graduate of El Paso’s Cathedral High School, said.

One reviewer called last year’s live theater production of  “Drumming with Anubis” a “poignant, hilarious exercise in magical realism.” 

The performance begins with a pre-show and auction at 4:30 p.m. MDT Sunday and Monday. The virtual curtain rises at 6 p.m. MDT, and a post show with the artists follows the performance.

A virtual theater performance requires a virtual box office. To get the Zoom link to the performance, send $10 and your email address via Venmo to @drummingwithanubis. Instructions, including the Zoom link, will be sent by email. The performance includes suggested cocktails and food to enhance the experience.

Cover photo: The cast of the virtual production of “Drumming with Annubis.”

Disclosure: El Paso Matters CEO Robert Moore served as a consultant in 2018 for a production of “Will’s War,” a play written by William Windle.

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986.