One hundred different personas portrayed by three actors in an hour-long show.
This is a general description of Caryl Churchill’s “Love and Information,” which was adapted and directed by senior directing student Caroline Hentz. The play was live-streamed on the Redfern Arts Center website on May 21 at 7:30 p.m. Actors junior Grace Kennett, senior Michael Costa and KSC alum Elyssa Eldridge were tasked with the challenge of portraying these personas.
Hentz said that it was Churchill writing and the freedom of adapting it to three actors that connected her to the play. “Love and Information” is usually performed with a cast of 10-20 actors and often runs about an hour and 45 minutes long. Hentz also explained that this liberty had to be taken for all but one or two of the 50 scenes which already contained fewer actors.
“[The play] is so nonlinear and, the way Caryl Churchill writes, she doesn’t even have like characters listed,” Hentz said. “It is just the scene name and then just text. So it’s up to the reader and the director to figure out how many characters are in the scene and see who’s saying what.”
According to the publication of the play, the show is described as a “fast moving kaleidoscope, more than a hundred characters try to make sense of what they know.” While she kept the main idea of the show, the low budget and lack of actors ultimately changed the trajectory of the play for Hentz.
“I ultimately decided that my concept was these three, sort of, like generalists, entities that are seeking to fathom humanity, and so they do so by embodying over 100 different personas,” Hentz explained. “And they discover the power of truth and human connections and life’s joyful moments and random scenes of life and that was my way to make it all kind of become one.”
Kennett said that her past experiences with acting helped her change personas quickly. She also took experiences from her own life and the people around her to help shape her characters.“I’ve been acting for 15 years. So, I’m kind of used to changing up characters but like changing them as quickly as you need to for this kind of thing was a little difficult for me,” Kennett said. “But I got used to it really quickly. Um, it’s just kind of having like a different mentality and like looking at the next scene partner that’s coming in and seeing them as their character and how your character would react to them, like one of my scenes I’m like a five year old child who doesn’t want to say ‘Sorry,’ and who just wants to play. So I just go back to that state of playing and pretending to be like my niece or my nephew, and just having fun with it.”
The play was the last show that Hentz will be a part of at Keene State as she is graduating this year. She said that she used this final show to step out of her comfort zone and grow as a director. Hentz wants to be a theater teacher so she will use the idea that discomfort is a crucial part of growth with her students.
“I’ve applied everything that I’ve learned to [the play,]” Hentz said. “It’s very new and different for me but I think that’s a good thing because otherwise how would we learn?”
Elyssa Eldridge and Michael Costa did not respond to a request for comments.
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