DramaTech Tackles Pandemic, Love & Information
After 18 months of bringing their shows to life for audiences via video conferencing, Georgia Tech's student-run theater, DramaTech, is returning to in-person performances. Its latest production, Love & Information, debuts this Friday, Nov. 5. Guests attending in-person will watch the play being performed on stage inside the theater on a projection screen at the theater’s limited outdoor seating, with a live-streaming option also available.
Tickets are on sale now for the play, which features 100 characters in a series of 50 scenes ranging from less than a minute in length to a few minutes long. While the scenes are apparently unrelated, they come together to create a mosaic portrayal of our modern culture and need for human connection, intimacy, and love. Despite having premiered nearly a decade ago, the themes discussed in the short scenes, such as climate change and immigration, remain relevant today.
“To me, in particular, it seems like the themes of the show are even stronger and more relatable now than they might have been [when the play first premiered] in 2012,” said Ma Sofia Sosa, one of the co-directors of the show and a fifth-year chemical engineering student at Georgia Tech.
A New Kind of Production Leadership
As the pandemic was just beginning, and the entertainment industry scrambled to safely shut down film and theater productions, DramaTech was also forced to pivot their spring 2020 production plans. They transformed the dress rehearsal for their spring musical, A New Brain, originally set to open on April 3, to a one-night-only performance so the incredible amount of work put into the show would not go completely to waste. Their summer production, boom, went fully online, followed by virtual performances in the fall 2020, spring 2021, and summer 2021 semesters.
“During the entirety of last year, while we were doing just virtual shows, we all really wanted to get back in person because it's more enjoyable when we're all here together,” said Noah Shirk, another co-director and a fourth-year aerospace engineering major. “But when we started auditions and rehearsals for the show in August, we weren’t sure how we'd be able to do it safely, which is the number one concern for us. So, we tried to create as close to a normal experience for theater while still making sure that we can ensure safety for everyone.”
Unlike conventional theater productions with one director or a director and assistant director, DramaTech has expanded their production leadership team for their latest show to include four co-directors: Melissa Foulger, artistic director of DramaTech; Ash Alred, a previous industrial design major; Shirk; and Sosa.
Alred started at Georgia Tech as a member of the marching band but wanted to get involved with something they had not tried before. They loved theater and the ability to learn so many skills while exploring different areas. They feel they’ve experienced the “full circle of theater” now sitting in the co-director’s chair having supported productions previously in lighting, costuming, and props.
A thespian in high school, Shirk took a break from theater during his first year at Georgia Tech. He finds it comforting to have a place like DramaTech to turn off from classes and enjoys the opportunity to meet people from other majors.
Sosa was attracted to DramaTech for the fun and challenging experience it provides unparalleled by anything they had previously experienced. Although the productions are never stress-free, it is a different type of stress than in the classroom, and in the end, it is made worthwhile by the enjoyment that comes from a successful production.
This network of directorial leadership not only allows for more students to gain practical experience in a directing position despite a limited number of shows during their school career, but it also alleviates some of the stress and pressure otherwise concentrated on one student director leading the production and ensemble alongside their studies and other commitments on campus.
“With everything that has happened with the pandemic and the racial and social justice movements that have been coming forward the last few years, theaters have moved to looking at how we can better respond and how we treat people,” said Foulger. “This is bringing more voices to the table and also making things more humane.”
Love & Information
Written by British playwright Caryl Churchill, Love & Information first premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London in September 2012, directed by James Macdonald.
The script emphasizes small moments and conversations, which are usually otherwise overlooked in our lives and can serve as reminders to enjoy the everyday.
“Just seeing the smaller moments and remembering that at the end of the day, even though there's so much bad and terrible things happening and going on around us, that we can find some hope and joy and love in each of those small moments that we have with other people,” said Alred.
Performances are scheduled every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night at 8 p.m. starting Nov. 5 through Nov. 20. Tickets for Love and Information in-person or live-stream performances can be purchased here. More information on DramaTech and their activities at Georgia Tech can be found on the DramaTech website.