Ever since we filmed the dress rehearsal of Cashless in April 2018, I have been thinking about how to put our shows online. Now the pandemic has made it even more necessary to perform for the Internet where live audiences are not possible.
Although YouTube or Patreon were obvious answers, I wanted a censorship-free home for our work. On the other hand, merely adding it to the Publius website would likely only draw viewers highly motivated by personal association with cast or crew, or from our social media efforts.
In 2019 I heard talk of some unique websites under development, designed to promote intelligent discussion while minimizing toxic posts. The strongest example of these sites turned out to be Locals.com.
Locals’ business model offers paid-subscription access to ad-free content. Content creators can give a free taste, and let the general public see paid-up subscribers’ comments, but viewers cannot see all a creator’s content and post their own comments until they sign up and pay. I strongly suspect this will weed out 99% of mean-spirited posts.
Minimizing the number of trolls is nice, but the overwhelming factor in deciding to post on Locals is its stated desire to keep censorship to an absolute minimum. This has two critical aspects for a new playwright who wants to discuss controversial ideas:
he can be fairly confident his play will be seen by audiences without any self-appointed intermediary interfering in the process, and,
he can be fairly confident Locals audiences are more concerned about freedom of expression and therefore are more receptive to new ideas.
I think Locals may have distilled and concentrated the perfect audience for filmed stage plays by bold new playwrights. People hungry to grapple with the ideas shaping our current culture may now have an ideal forum.
And yes, ordinarily, stage plays are supposed to be experienced live. But given everything our civilization is now facing, Locals is a pretty darn good substitute.