An Interview with Anne Beck: From the Stage to the Living Room with Zoom

Sep 24, 2020 by


Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Anne first of all, thank you for taking the time to respond to me during these very difficulty stressful times. I appreciate it.

I understand that you are about to direct two plays on ZOOM. What brought this about?

Because of the 2020 centennial of women getting the vote, last spring we decided to do an evening of “voices by and about women” that would include two canonical one-acts, Overtones (1913) by Alice Gerstenberg and Trifles (1916) by Susan Glaspell both of which focus on the experiences of women at the beginning of the  20th century.

When our university ( Eastern New Mexico University ) went entirely or almost entirely online, we decided to do the plays via Zoom.  I then cast the actors and we rehearsed, each of us at home, and prepared the plays as we would if we were not socially distanced.

2) First of all, what are the names of the two plays and what are they about?

Overtones by Alice Gerstenberg (1913) is a short 15-minute play about Harriet and Margaret who are cultured ladies meeting for an afternoon tea and their two inner selves, Hetty and Maggie. Their inner selves speak what the two women are really thinking and feeling. 

Trifles by Susan Glaspell (1915) concerns the search for a motive of a farmer’s wife who killed her husband. Two women accompany their husbands to the house of the couple to collect evidence; as the men search the house and barn, the two women piece together the life of Minnie Wright—her trifles–by an interrogation of her kitchen. 

3) What changes did you have to make in terms of preparing this play to be shown on Zoom?

We had to drop the costumes and props to each of the seven actors; each actor had to find a neutral background in their apartment or dorm room against which they played the one-act. Finally, the actors learned their lines and interacted with the others in the ensemble as if they were in the same space.  The actors could see each other yet had to imagine their environment.

5) How did the actors react?

They were nervous at first but after a while they all accepted the new format and began to interact with each other as they would if we were all together in the same space.

The two one-acts, directed by Anne Beck, feature ENMU student actors:  Angelica Casteel, Ariana Gasparlin, Desaili Gomez, Lara Harkness, Aric Saiz, Alexandra Sena, and Kieran Verduzco.

Stage Manager: Caleb Daniel Ramsell   Costume Designer: Sarah Koss

It’s free and a Zoom-theatre event.  

To register:  go to

Once you choose the performance you wish to attend from the drop-down menu, you put in your name and email. The Zoom link will be then sent to you. At the time of the show, click on the link and voila you will be in the Zoom room watching a live event.  See times and dates below. Also: the “Voices By and About Women” include photographs of ART professor Alla Parsons paintings.  The “Voices” performance are part of ENMU Homecoming festivities.    Anne Beck

The one-act plays will be presented:

Thurs. Sept. 24, 7pm 

Fri. Sept. 25, 7pm

Sat. Sept. 26, 7pm

Sun. Sept. 27, 2pm

Anne Beck, Ph.D. is Professor in the Department of Theatre and Digital Filmmaking

at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico 88130

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