Loneliness was a pandemic

Cast members Isa Jackowich, left, and Justen Glover star in “Loneliness was a Pandemic,” a new production from Relative Theatrics.

Relative Theatrics is set to continue its unique theater season this month with a play about the value of the arts and the need for connection.

“Loneliness was a Pandemic,” written by Olivia Haller, is scheduled to stream virtually from Nov. 6-22. Tickets are $15, which obtains access to a private link for at-home streaming at any time.

The play is set in a future world where robots are in charge and can do almost everything better than humans. The only humans left alive are artists.

“Robots have not yet figured out how to create art,” said Relative Theatrics founder Anne Mason. “The play focuses on an artist and a robot who are learning from each other and navigating this interesting relationship.”

The job of the human is to teach the robot how to make art, if that’s even possible.

“There’s a question if robots have the ability to sense feelings, have the ability to empathize or hold compassion,” Mason said.

Mason said the company has decided to continue its eighth season by offering productions that combine theater and film, instead of live productions. Mason chose Haller’s play in part because the play’s casting profile fit the demographics of the actors and production team she had available, and it made sense to do as an online project.

“This was a play that, as I read it I, could perfectly envision every single one of our artists slipping into these various roles in a way that made sense, and that would be creating this rich tapestry in the world of the play,” she said.

Also, the ideas that Haller engages in the work are suited to the times, Mason said, without being too heavy.

“There are still elements in this production that do question the challenges of being a human, but it’s also important to recognize that right now is a time to find things that we can celebrate,” she said.

Indeed, “Loneliness was a Pandemic” celebrates the value of art especially during trying times.

“The arts are something that will continue to keep us alive, keep us sane, something that will continue to give us hope as we traverse this very difficult period,” she said.

The play was filmed from a stationary camera angle that mimics the view of a security camera, allowing the audience to participate in the world of the play through a voyeuristic lens. In doing so, directors Amanda Alch and Jared Mohr-Leiva hint at the discomfort of intrusive technology.

The human is monitored constantly, much like algorithms constantly mine our own online comings and goings without our consent.

“It’s an interesting way to try to bring the audience into the world of the play when we can’t actually be in the same physical space,” Mason said.

The cast features Isa Jackowich and Alex Soto as humans and Justen Glover and Bailey Patterson as robots.

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