What constitutes love and what constitutes information? Can we love without information? Can information amount to love? Are “love” and “information” inseparable?
Composed of a series of thirty-seven unconnected vignettes, Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information poses many questions, most indirectly, through its brief glimpses into the private lives of a wide range of characters. At first, we are on the outside of the circle looking in. We begin as silent observers—flies on the wall, thanks to Director Kate Glowatsky ’16, who seats us in the round. Yet before long, reality and the world of the play begin to blur. In one such moment, the lights come up and the entire cast circles the space, snapping photos (“selfies”) with the audience. From this point on, the audience/actor barrier has been broken entirely; the world of the play and the lives of the audience become one and the same.
Can we love without information? In one vignette, Lena Schwartz ’19 plays a woman who has lost her memory. When she picks up a guitar and begins to play, however, she and her partner (played by Lauren Jackson’ 16) share a moment of connection, singing an emotionally charged duet of Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” Once the music stops, their connection vanishes. We wonder whether, stripped of her memory and her ability to love, Schwartz’s character will ever be able to love again.
Can information amount to love? Jacques Phelps ’18 justifies his love for a computer-generated woman, a la Spike Jonze’s Her. He essentially argues that humans are no more than an accumulation of information. He argues that we are no different from computers, and that the computer-woman he loves is just as real as you or me.
Are love and information inseparable? Glowatsky’s direction suggests that the answer may be yes, though we are thankfully spared any direct answer to the question. The piece moves too quickly for us to stop and pull the two apart; in the moment, all we can do is sit back and let ourselves be pulled into the lives of the characters. The fast pace of the dialogue and transitions keep the audience on the edge of their seats and serve to emulate the rapid nature of life and love. The staging contributes, too—this is a performance in constant motion, with actors arranging and rearranging chairs and blocks, entering and exiting at breakneck speed. Because the audience is set up in the round, the reactions of individual audience members can be seen from across the circle. We become a part of the play.
Technology acts sometimes as a tool for communication, sometimes as a reminder of the bombardment of information that surrounds us, and sometimes as both at the same time. Through a mix of naturalistic lighting and constructed moments of heightened reality, Lighting Designer Erica Schnitzer ‘18 carefully directs the audience where to look and when, guiding us through this world of questions.
Do any of these questions have answers? Love and Information leaves the final conclusion in the hands of the audience. It is up to us to decide which of these thirty-seven scenes ring true in our own lives and whether or not these questions can even be answered at all.
Rachel Karp is a sophomore English/Theater double-major and associate editor of the Living Newsletter.
Written By: Caryl Churchill
Director: Kate Glowatsky ’16
Lighting Designer/Stage Manager: Erica Schnitzer ’18
Cast: Jacques Phelps ’18, Bianca Thompson ’19, Finley Martin ’19, Lena Schwartz ’19, Sydney Tennant ’18, Kallan Dana ’19, Magden Gipe ’19, Nico Palthey ’19, and Lauren Jackson ’16.