Love/Sick Director Scott Dunlap talks about romance
The Chattanooga Theatre Centre opened a new play this past weekend. Love/Sick by John Cariani runs in the Circle Theatre through February 26th. We sat down with director Scott Dunlap to find out more about this relationship-driven show.
The Pulse: So tell me about Love/Sick. What is it?
Scott Dunlap: It’s a new play by John Cariani (an accomplished actor and playwright) who wrote Almost, Maine. It’s not a sequel but it’s in the same style. It’s nine short playlets unified by a common theme—relationships. Because I am a friend of John’s we were also able to get a tenth scene that is not published. It’s so new that we’re one of the first nonprofessional theatres to do it.
TP: What is the play about?
SD: It explores the different phases of love—meeting someone, getting married, having kids, divorce—all of the different phases relationships go through. It’s written professionally to be done with four people.
We have a cast of fifteen: Chris Barr, Jeremy Campbell, Maria Chattin, Krista Cope, Jordan Dickenson, Josh Garcia, Kelseigh Garrett, Maggie Hudgens, Nneka Ijeoma, Anthony Mrotek, Tim Newland, Amy Smith, Christian Smith, Nathan Tulles, and Dawn Wilson.
A couple of the actors have two scenes, but casting like this not only gives more people the opportunity to work, it allows the actors to focus on their one scene and later see how they fit into the big picture.
All the scenes happen on June 17th at 7:30 in the evening. Something I like to think about is that you and I are having this conversation and somewhere else in the world someone is having the best day of their life and someone else is having the worst day of their life. It’s a unique way to look at a play. All of these things are happening at the same moment.
TP: How would you categorize the play? Is it a drama or a comedy?
SD: It’s both actually. It’s sort of a romantic comedy, but not everything has a happy ending or is squeaky clean. Relationships aren’t cut and dry. Almost, Maine lives in an innocent place and this is sort of jaded. You will probably laugh and then immediately feel bad for laughing. There’s a lot of good sad feelings. You will really connect with the characters and their stories.
One of the things the cast and I have been talking about is how common this style of comedy is right now—the play is like the style of the movie Amelie—it’s romantic but the twist is that it’s a little sad. This is something that has been creeping up more and more in entertainment recently.
TP: What kind of audience are you pitching this show to?
SD: One of the things we were able to do with casting lots of actors in a wide range of ages is cast the scenes to play to a variety of audiences. I felt like the earlier scenes addressed young love and the later ones were about more mature love.
If you’ve ever fallen in love, been in a relationship, gotten married—you can identify. The scenes are all two person scenes and as we put it all together everyone could really relate to every scene even though there’s a twenty-year age difference in the cast.
TP: What are the sets and costumes like?
SD: Because it’s about the evolution of relationships and very cyclical, we’re doing it in the round. The scenes are blocked from different angles. We used romantic color palettes—lots of lush red—and worked on how to indicate with music that all of these things are happening at the same time.
There are hanging houses from the ceiling so you get the idea that you’re eavesdropping on the conversations. It’s very beautiful.
One of the reasons perhaps that we chose this play is because of John. He writes things that are simple to do. Simple props and costumes. It’s really about the characters.
I always hate when you work on some small technical thing and it’s gone in a moment. This isn’t like that.
TP: You’ve described the play very simply. What do you think the audience will get from this?
SD: They’ll have their favorite scenes and their favorite characters. It’s not overly complicated. It’s a nice night at the theatre. It’s nice to have that sometimes.
For more information about Love/Sick or to order tickets, visit theatrecentre.com or call the box office (423) 267-8534 (open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).