LOGAN — The 2022-23 Theater Arts season at Utah State University kicked off this week with love and information by prolific British playwright Caryl Churchill, whom director Michael Shipley describes as “…a bit of an enigma”.
I will say.
It’s a series of vignettes strung together to give Shipley performers a chance to flex their artistic muscles without the constraints of plot development, character names, or descriptions.
love and information is 50 brief scenes with over 100 characters and all actors have to work with what the characters are saying at the time.
But what does all this mean? Whatever you think that means, which probably suits Churchill down to the ground.
Early in his career in the 1960s and 1970s, Churchill wrote radio dramas and television plays. While she was playwright-in-residence at the Royal Court Theater in London, her plays explored sexual politics and power dynamics between men and women.
More recently, the works of Churchill have pushed the idea of a play beyond its accepted imaginative limits.
It’s a bit like that love and information is about.
Shipley explains that there really is order in the apparent chaos of love and information.
The play consists of seven sections, each section containing seven scenes. Churchill’s script specifies that the sections must be played in the order she wrote, but the scenes in each section can be played in any order.
“It’s essentially a theatrical collage,” adds the director. “To bring this play to life, the actors created specific circumstances and relationships for each of the scenes in which they appear. They also chose to perform the scenes from each section in a random order revealed to them live on stage during each performance.
“The math – given the number of scenes – indicates that there are over 35,000 possible combinations of scenes or 35,000 versions of the play that the audience could experience.”
love and information ends with opening and closing scenes in which all the characters are on stage. In the opening, they perform seemingly random acts. In the finale, they play a game show similar to “Jeopardy” with incredibly difficult questions.
Again, what this means is what you think it means.
Or maybe not.
Shipley has assembled a cast of 14 talented actors and 4 stunt doubles.
Some of them are familiar faces. Ryan Adams – veteran of Henrik Ibsen’s USU 2022 busy read Ghosts – is in the mix, with Mia Gatherum from the delicious production of the university of Miss Bennet: Christmas in Pemberly in 2021.
Otherwise, Shipley’s cast is mostly made up of newcomers to the USU scene.
They are Ollie Chieppa, Brynn Francis, Mason Garcia, Gray Harding, Harmon Jackson, Marin Robinson, Dylan Seely, Ethan Shaw, Fin Sheffer, Summer Shoell, Willoughby Staley and McKenna Finley, plus stunt doubles Josh Wandrey, Cecily Udy, Megan Bedell and Cameron. Künz.
No doubt we’ll see more of these gifted performers later in the USU season.
Nocturnal performances of love and information will continue at the Block Box Theater at the Chase Fine Arts Center on the USU campus at 7:30 p.m. until Saturday, October 8. A matinee performance will also be offered at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Audience members are warned that Churchill’s play has slightly adult themes.
The next step in the university’s theater program is the controversial musical drama spring awakening which will debut on October 21.