Theatre students Launch ‘Zoomfest: A Theatrical Podcast’

BY Robbie Armstrong, April 2, 2020

Current Playwriting student Devon Kidd and current Theatre Management & Producing student Sean Anthony Chia created Zoomfest: A Theatrical Podcast. This multi-disciplinary arts podcast showcases original songs, poems, and plays responding to the question: What does it mean to survive? The podcast's name comes from the duality of the term zoom, meaning both to quickly speed or travel and to move closely or away from the object. Kidd and Chia were interested in the concept of their own lives zooming into the future and exploring how communities survive digitally. 


Zoomfest’s first episode, ‘The Sound of Hope,’ includes three original poems and one original song. “A Meeting With God,” a poem by Kidd, stars Julian Kingston. “A Tribute To ‘Underground Jazz’”, a poem by Jay Délise stars the author. “Minor Things Movement 1,” a poem by current student Kelley Moncrief stars current student Rebecca Ho. “Threnody,” an original song by Writing alumna Melanie Mergen ’19 stars its composer. 

Chia explains “the impetus began as a burrito commission, or buying lunch in exchange for a work of art.” Chia remembered that a mentor had once told him that good producers don’t need a lot of money, but rather just enough to buy a playwright lunch. Artists develop pieces alongside Kidd and Chia, meeting and rehearsing virtually, using online resources as the main point of contact. Each piece is produced individually, then Kidd and Chia curate the podcast episode, pairing works of art based on common themes and tones. 


Artists can submit to Zoomfest in four ways: as a performer, songwriter, director, or writer. “In our first month we’ve received submissions from over 450 performers, directors, writers, and songwriters,” Chia said. Kidd added “This podcast focuses on the idea of hope in the face of something coming to an end. We want to spread a positive message in a time where there’s a lack of leadership.”


Kidd is a television writer and playwright from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who’s original play Not Even God was selected as a finalist for the [email protected] Reading Series. Chia is a producer and theatre artist from New Jersey. Chia is the Creative Development Coordinator for Theatre at Prodigal Entertainment. He also serves as a Corporate Producer for Jubilee Festival, a Creative Development Scholar for Davenport Theatrical, and a Diversity Fellow for The Broadway League


The first episode of Zoomfest was released on Spotify on March 23rd. Episodes will be released biweekly with the second episode to be released in early April.