The UofSC Dept. of Theatre and Dance will open its 2020-2021 performance season October 1-4 with an online production of Caryl Churchill’s critically-acclaimed play, Love and Information.
Admission is free with an option for donation. Show times are at 8pm, October 1-3 and 3pm, October 4. To reserve a virtual seat to the show and receive a streaming link, click here.
Churchill stays true to her iconoclastic reputation with Love and Information, a theatrical experience that’s rooted in the chaotic nature of our information-obsessed age. Comprised of over 50 seemingly unrelated scenes – some just seconds in length – Love and Information is an exhilarating, kaleidoscopic play about how we spend our lives thirsting for knowledge, yearning for love, and struggling to make sense of it all.
“Leave it to Ms. Churchill to come up with a work that so ingeniously and exhaustively mirrors our age of the splintered attention span…” – The New York Times
“It’s not a play in a traditional sense,” says UofSC theatre professor Steven Pearson, director of the production. “It’s like a pointillist painting, made up of these dramatic theatrical ‘dots.’ Some of them are very short, some a bit longer, and when you experience them next to each other…an overall picture becomes clear.”
Over the course of the fast-moving play, seven actors bring over 100 characters to life, with each trying to grapple with information in the modern age. “It’s about how modern information society exists in the same time as love, from the very intimate to the largest notions of love connecting people to each other,” says Pearson. “In every scene, people are trying to work out something with each other. It might be family members or couples or strangers or colleagues, but they’re trying to make contact for some reason. You begin to see what it’s like to be a person living in this information age and the tensions that come up relative to that.”
Pearson says that he had wanted to direct the play this season before the COVID-19 pandemic prohibited in-person productions. However, he says moving the show to a virtual space brings its own “meta” significance to the script.
“It’s like another skin of the onion. This is a play about information, and we are being necessarily broken down into digital ones and zeros, computer information, to present it,” he says. “What’s missing is the visceral humanity of it and what we’re left with is the spirit of that humanity. That’s why we’re working to do it live, so that we retain some of the human presence even though we aren’t able to sit next to each other and breathe in the same space.”
The online medium poses a brand new set of challenges for the actors, who will be rehearsing and performing completely remotely without the assistance of a backstage crew. “The actors will be their own technician, their own wardrobe person, their own assistant stage manager,” says Pearson. And, as for audience interaction, the director likens the experience to camera work. “It’s very much like a take in film and television. You don’t have any wind-up as an actor. You have to be fully present and ready in a very short amount of time.”
Cast in the production are undergraduates Jesse Breazeale, Zoe Chan, Ezri Fender, Damian Garrod, Felisha Miller and Carly Siegel, and graduate actor Gabe Reitemeier. Scenic design is being created by graduate design student Mona Damian-Ulmu. Costumes are being designed by professor Kristy Hall.
It’s an unconventional play being presented in an equally unconventional way, but Pearson’s intention for the audience is the same as it’s always been.
“Think of it as sitting in a small theatre that’s doing experimental work,” he says. “We’re focusing on acting and the text, and we’ll have some additional elements to help set the scenes, and our invitation to the audience is to simply join us in the act of imagining.”
To find out more about Love and Information or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.