UIC Theatre spotlights love affairs, social media


The UIC Theatre ends its season with the world premiere of a play by a recent Goodman Theatre playwright-in-residence — on a topic critical to people who rely on social media to navigate their social lives.

Christopher Oscar Peña’s “i wonder if it’s possible to have a love affair that lasts forever (or) things i found on craigslist,” which opens Friday at the UIC Theatre, has been called “‘The Big Chill’ for millennials.”

The play chronicles the love affairs of six friends in their late 20s in 2011. Their impending 10-year high school reunion prompts them to question their relationships with each other, their sexuality or lack thereof, and their increasing reliance on social media.

“Social media is the tool that unified this generation, but it’s asking questions about where the personal ends. They’re more open, but they’re prone to being less tactful, and completely unapologetic, because everything is a touch of the finger away,” says Yasen Peyankov, head of UIC’s theatre program.

The play was developed through workshops in New York and Los Angeles to arrive at the final version that UIC will produce, says Peña, who discussed the play with student actors at UIC last year.

The characters post Facebook status changes that lead to meddling by near-strangers and conflicts among themselves. One friend places a “virginity for sale” ad on Craigslist. And Gino — the only one of the group who has avoided Facebook — signs on for the first time and instantly envies those who lived before social media because “the past stayed in the past … People could become different people and disappear forever.”

Three sprites serve as an omniscient Greek chorus throughout the story. They zap the group back to pre-Facebook times to remind them of their true selves.

The play’s title draws from a 1963 self-portrait by Andy Warhol, titled “i wonder if it’s possible to have a love affair that lasts forever.” One character inks the line on his arm and refers to it in moments of doubt.

Peña’s plays have been produced at New York’s Public Theater, the New York Theatre Workshop and other theaters in New York and Los Angeles.

UIC’s production is directed by Marti Lyons, literary manager and dramaturg of Lookingglass Theater.  She worked on the acclaimed “Still Alice” (adapted by Christine Mary Dunford, director of the UIC School of Theatre and Music) and “Mister Ricky Calls a Meeting” at Lookingglass.  The play includes music and lyrics by Melissa Lusk, a New York-based songwriter.

Performances are April 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m.; and April 13, 16 and 19 at 2 p.m.  Admission to all performances is $11 for UIC students, $14 UIC faculty and staff and $16 general public. For more information, call 312-996-2939.

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