Closer Than They Appear is the latest iteration of Christine Evans' 2014 NYC world premiere of You Are Dead. You Are Here. While the first production depicted a drab government office transforming into a virtual reality world of war torn Iraq, I found that the environment really could be much simpler with just a rolling laptop and a chair so the action could flow back and forth between the virtual and real world in seconds.
This hybrid performance was an exploration of the experiences of an American soldier with PTSD alternating with video accounts of and an Iraqi girl blogger. Much of the emotional environment of their stories was created through the visual elements. Evans, professor of playwriting at Georgetown is a social justice writer, and her choice of subject matter, poetic style, and collaborative work method were a perfect match for my artistic sensibilities. While the characters’ stories overlap and enmeshed with one another through live feed and virtual reality video, the scenery functioned as a container for the journey through the chaos.
The multimedia design component, by Jared Mezzocchi, featured cutting edge virtual reality software on loan from a US government science program. It was an exhilarating challenge to work closely with a highly skilled video designer implementing sophisticated equipment that had never been used in a theatrical environment.
StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance is an award-winning professional performing arts and educational center. Founded in Chicago in 1992, StreetSigns has presented more than fifty productions in its more than twenty-five-year history. StreetSigns has worked in partnership with Northwestern University, the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Georgetown University, always dedicated to the development and presentation of new literary adaptations, company created theatrical works, innovative new plays, and bold re-imaginings of classics. StreetSigns is committed to celebrating its region’s rich oral and written traditions, and to engaging cultural and political issues through performance.