Visit MaineToday's profile on Pinterest.

About The Author


Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

Send an email | Read more from Bob

Posted: February 28, 2018

Don’t bother turning off your phone when the curtain rises on ‘Love and Information’

Written by: Bob Keyes

L to R: Sydney Benjamin, Ariana Smith, and Mitchel Jurasek from the cast of “Love and Information” by Caryl Churchill
Photos by Ann Basu

You know that announcement about turning off your phone before the show begins? You won’t be hearing it this weekend, when the department of theater and dance at Bowdoin College presents the Caryl Churchill play “Love and Information.”

The theater department has teamed with the computer science department to create an iOS app that people will be encouraged to interact with during the performance at Pickard Theater. The app is designed as a companion to the performance and will include information about the show, video content and viral interaction with a member of the cast on stage, referred to as “the social media musician,” who will perform on a laptop.

“There will be live-streaming video and social media feeds and some other really interesting explorations of the technology and how it mediates our relationships,” said J.J. Peeler, academic coordinator for Bowdoin’s theater department.

Lightboard operator Nathan Ashany, left, lighting designer Gregg Carville, stage manager Ian Stewart and sound designer and video engineer Martin Gwinup.

Members of the audience who download the app and want to interact while the show is happening will be seated together in one section of the theater, called “tweet seats.” While the live-app experience is somewhat of an experiment specific to “Love and Information,” the idea of using an app to complement performance isn’t new, Bay-Cheng said. People do it all the time at home while watching movies or TV shows, and TED Talks are all about the intersection of technology and live performance. “It’s this idea that in some ways, whether we are active on social media or not, it’s become a kind of constant drumbeat in our lives.”

The plays open Friday, with performances through Sunday.

Mitchel Jurasek, left, and Chase Tomberlin from the cast of “Love and Information”

The content of Churchill’s play lends itself to this social-media treatment, said director Sarah Bay-Cheng. The play is about relationships in the digital culture and is told in a series of vignettes, or what Bay-Cheng calls “micro dramas.” The play explores how we process knowledge and each other. “It’s a meditation on what is love, what is romance and what is intimacy” in today’s digital-fueled, image-filled world, she said.

“Love and Information” is a non-linear, non-episodic play. Bay-Cheng calls it a mosaic. The 20 members of the cast play more than 150 characters. Some of the mini dramas are as short as 15 or 20 seconds; others last four or five minutes. Collectively, the show will last about 100 minutes, including an intermission.

Written in 2012, this play is among the British playwright’s best, Bay-Cheng said. Born in 1938, Churchill began writing radio dramas for the BBC in 1960s. She’s written more than 50 plays, adaptations and translations, and explores questions of power, culture and the environment in her work. “There are few people more vital to contemporary theater than Caryl Churchill,” Bay-Cheng said.

“Love and Information”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Pickard Theater, Memorial Hall, Bowdoin College, Brunswick
TICKETS: Free, available at Smith Union and at the door
APP: An iOS app to accompany the play is available for download in the Apple app store

Up Next: