Submitted by Harlequin Productions
Why are people drawn to the beach to watch the waves? Why do we go hiking or crave a day on the water? Why do mountain vistas instill a sense of calm? It’s one of the reasons we love living in the Pacific Northwest: we crave the majesty of nature. But why? Being near the ocean or at the foot of a mountain gives us the much-needed reminder that our daily worries are not the center of the universe; that we are only a small part of something much larger.
This month the creative team at Harlequin Productions aims to bring these reminders to the great indoors through the production of Love and Information by Caryl Churchill. Audiences are invited to experience a whirlwind of a theatrical experience: 57 scenes in 80 minutes, to be exact. While other productions have pulled off the 100+ characters using casts of 20 or more, Harlequin will have only seven actors playing all these roles. All those pieces will come together in a fast-paced choose-your-own-adventure-style exploration of love in the information age.
Rather than slowing down the production by creating multiple realistic sets, director Aaron Lamb and designer Jeannie Beirne decided to take a minimalist approach in hopes of a colossal impact. In addition to a few modular pieces that can be quickly moved around, the set is characterized by five rectangular panels that tower over the stage, acting as projection screens and set pieces at once.
“One of my favorite things to play with in set design is scale,” says Beirne. “You’re always working with the human form onstage, so when you can dwarf it or maximize it, that’s always enticing.”
Beirne is also excited about how the set pieces work together with light and shadow to create different worlds and emotions for each scene:
“Because it’s a non-realistic set, it keeps you thinking on a few more levels than you could if you were put fully into a story with a fully furnished set.”
Without an overarching plotline, the play is a compilation of multiple sections, in which the individual scenes can be rearranged however the director sees fit. Because these vignettes give us moments of humanity rather than deep dives into particular characters or storylines, the audience is given plenty of breathing room to bring their own imaginations and interpretations along for the ride. The quick glimpses provide a very effective mirror, where audience members will most certainly see their own personalities, desires, experiences reflected back to them from the stage.
“It’s one of those shows that people are going to be talking about after they see it, because there’s just so much there,” says cast member Gerald B. Browning. “You have to sort of take it all in and then think about it later.”
Cast member Nicholas Main hopes that audience members will benefit from the play’s examination of human interaction:
“This show will really open up your mind to how you’re connecting with people in your life, how you’re connecting with the world around you. And hopefully it’ll remind you to take a second away from the things that are plugged into the wall, your phone, and really look into the eyes and the soul of the person next to you.”
Other cast members include Skylar Bastedo, Alyssa Kay Matthews, Fox Rain Matthews, Shauntal Piper, and Janet Spencer. You can hear more of their thoughts about the production in a promotional video at harlequinproductions.org.
The creative team is made up of Aaron Lamb (Director), Jeannie Beirne (Scenic Design), Darren Mills (Costume Design), Joe Griffith (Lighting Design), John Serembe (Video Design), Keith Jewell (Sound Design), Harrison Fry (Properties Design), Gina Salerno (Stage Manager), and Graham Owen (Asst. Stage Manager).
Experience it all for yourself February 28 through March 23 at the historic State Theater in downtown Olympia. Get your tickets now at harlequinproductions.org or call the box office at 360-786-0151.