By Neil Armstrong
Stay Home, stay safe’. . .
The coronavirus pandemic posed an unprecedented challenge on a global scale. March 23rd, 2020 saw the stay-at-home lockdown begin. There's no doubt that the video conferencing app Zoom has flooded into our collective consciousness since the early days of COVID-19. Much of our real-life social interaction has been replaced by virtual meetings.
The Daggards embraced this technology; we felt we could add fun and innovative ways to these video calls! A means to offer an educational aspect to Lodge video meetings, it could cover virtually anything, from Victorian night soil-men to modern day surgery! The possibilities were tremendous. Our main objective was to have enjoyment and interact with our isolated friends and brothers.
The Daggards Zoom Quartet began as a trio. Hand over Back was the true story of a duel and a masonic related tragedy. But we prefer working as a foursome. Other productions soon followed. The Quartet comprises Eddie, our story weaver and master of penmanship; David, whose prowess in character acting is a joy to behold; Craig our technical guru, whose expertise ensures the smooth running of the visual elements; and Neil, researcher and slide artist extraordinaire. All usually adopt varying speaking parts in the Zoom Presentations.
Figuring out how to start our presentations is one of the most important parts of our Zoom performances. We want our audiences to sit up in their seats, not prepare to doze off. It can be tough to keep everyone engaged when we’re not interacting with them face-to-face. Do you know that it takes as little as five seconds to judge how charismatic a speaker is? So far, nobody has slumbered during our presentations!
Pictures speak louder than words, which is why we strive to use powerful images that help the story along. Many hours are spent correlating or creating appropriate PowerPoint slides. Together with the challenges of researching the subject matter, Neil undertakes the illustrations with zeal.
But of course, there’s not only the beginning, but the middle and the end. Our presentations are virtual journeys, sometimes taking the audience into unexpected areas (e.g. the operating theatre, on board a space ship or battling the North Sea.) We like to end by giving you something to think about.
The Daggards Zoom Quartet doesn’t wing it: we rehearse, (some of us are camera shy.) We enjoy perfecting our characterisations and dealing with the tricky vocabulary Eddie sometimes insists upon (Revolution requires French, American and English accents and an argument in a hot-air balloon) so that we come across as real human beings albeit via a computer screen. At the end, we’ve tried to anticipate your questions, and there have been plenty of these.
Zoom has enabled invaluable contact with isolated Freemasons worldwide during this distressing and unprecedented pandemic. As we slowly return to regular Lodge meetings, it remains a means of keeping in touch both socially and educationally – a valuable tool that has enhanced the way the Daggards interact. It’s zooming marvellous!
N A May 2021