Generally when I’m not at my desk in the Marketing Department of the Walker, I’m somewhere making theater with children. This week, however, worlds have collided. New York-based theater company The Builders Association has been hard at work rehearsing their latest creation Continuous City in the McGuire Theater and I’ve been at the side of Caroline O’Neill, the youngest performer in the show as her acting coach. Between scenes I took the opportunity to ask this charismatic young person a few questions about the multimedia show that recently premiered at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on the University of Illinois campus.
Here’s what she had to say:
What is your name?
How old are you?
Who is the character you play?
Sam. Short for Samantha.
What is Continuous City about?
Connecting to people you love . . .if you’re in one place you might feel like your family’s really far apart, but you have this wonderful technology to connect you.
Is the technology enough to help Sam connect with her dad when he is far away from her?
Well, I think the connection between them can’t be completely gone. If we didn’t have these wonderful electronics we wouldn’t be able to communicate at all when we’re far away.
How does Sam feel when she’s on her own?
In the first part she’s a little sad, then as the show goes on her mood goes up.
She actually has someone with her. [Deb, her nanny]
How do you act sad?
I think about my grandpa who died when I was little.
What was the process of working on a new play like?
It started last spring. Then we took a long break. Then we came back together and did all different things. The script changed completely.
How did you handle that?
Marianne. [The director, Marianne Weems] She’s a very good person. She’s helped me through the rough parts and easy parts.
What makes this play unique?
The screens. There are about 1,000 of them.
Can you describe what happens with the screens to give someone who hasn’t seen the play an idea of what they’re like?
They are very, very, very active. There are many, they open and close a lot. They show little films that the live actors are talking to.
Though they don’t actually number a thousand (there are thirty), the screens that Caroline talks about certainly fill the McGuire. The images that project on them bring faces from around the world into the show for a few moments at a time. You could even become one of them. The Builder’s Association created a fictional, international networking site called Xubu for Continuous City. People from around the world are invited to visit the website and post a recording that could be integrated into a performance.