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EMCC play explores love, relationships

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Cast helps create 100 characters featured in dozens of vignettes

WHAT: Love and Information
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, 3 and 7 p.m. Friday and 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Performing Arts Center, Estrella Mountain Community College, 3000 N. Dysart Road, Avondale
COST: Free

A play that uses dozens of vignettes to explore love and relationships created an opportunity for collaboration between the director and his cast of college students.

Love and Information will be presented Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Performing Arts Center at Estrella Mountain Community College, 3000 N. Dysart Road, Avondale. Admission is free.

This is our most ambitious project so far,” said George Lopercio, who directs TheatrEstrella’s cast of 31 actors in a play that includes about 100 characters.

The play was a challenge because British playwright Caryl Churchill created characters without indicating details such as gender, orientation or race and a loose structure without the location or subtext for the scenes.

We started from scratch looking at a blank page,” Lopercio said. “We got to create so much of it. It allows everybody to play the role they want to play.”

Lopercio said the play fit his desire to direct a contemporary work for a large cast.

I had a lot of really talented students ready for a bigger challenge,” he said.

During untraditional rehearsals, students, who each play three or more roles in the production, helped fill in the script’s blanks.

Every student was a major collaborator,” Lopercio said. “This is the biggest collaboration I’ll ever have.”

About 50 scenes ranging in length from 45 seconds to a couple of minutes use comedy and drama to deal with the play’s title topic — love and information.

Students said they identified with the situations depicted.

You see these things happening every day,” said Andres Mena, a student who has a role in the show.

Relationships explored range from strangers to friendships to longtime partners, from youth to the elderly.

Ashley Martin said one character she plays who’s “trying to figure out love” traces its stages from lover to wife to mother.

Michael Naughton rehearsed with a cane for his role as a man with Alzheimer’s disease.

Some scenes that use laptops or cell phones as props explore how technology has had an impact on relationships by bringing people together or creating distractions that pull them apart.

Lopercio said the play’s themes touch on “tidbits of everything,” including grief, religion, bullying, terrorism, torture and global warming.

To keep the 90-minute show moving, the scenes of the play will alternate on a set with two sections with digitally projected backdrops.

The play, which was originally staged in London in 2012, is a Southwest premiere, Lopercio said.

 

Glenn Gullickson can be reached at ggullickson@westvalleyview.com.

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