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.
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.
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.
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