BWW Interview: Luciann Lajoie, Star and Writer of DATE*, on Romance in the 21st Century
Do you believe in love at first site? Written and performed by Luciann Lajoie and based on interviews with a wildly diverse group of more than 150 online daters (young, old, straight, gay, Mormon, Jewish, etc.), Date* is a hilarious and candid multimedia show explores the hits and misses of one woman's surprising quest to find love online.
Here's what Luciann Lajoie had to say about her show and the idea of romance in the digital age...
BWW: What is Date* about?
LL: Date* uses hundreds of real people's stories to explore the quest for love online: an analysis of the love, loss, humor, humiliation, addiction and grappling with who you are and how you fit in the world that arise in conversations with people about online dating.
BWW: What inspired you to write Date*?
LL: I moved back to Denver from New York and London about 7 years ago and soon realized all my friends were married with kids and I didn't have a good way to meet people. After about a year of online dating I started interviewing folks about their own experiences; my own had been sometimes heart-breaking and often hilarious, and I wondered what it was like for other people.
BWW: How long did it take you to create Date*?
LL: We first started work-shopping the piece about 4 years ago, and 2 years ago we co-curated in partnership with a division of the Denver Center Theatre Company. We continue to refine the script and use of projection with aims to maintain relevance and trim the fat. It's a really fun process of creativity and economy, and I feel lucky to have amazing people across disciplines and generations working with me on it all.
BWW: Are any of your personal stories in the show, or is it based simply off of the stories of the 250 people you interviewed?
LL: Yes! Parts of the primary storyline are my own experiences, and some of them are other peoples' stories who shared the same kind of journey my character (Luci) takes in the show.
BWW: Did you find a common thread thru the 250 interviews? Did most people have a positive experience with online dating, a negative experience, or was it decidedly mixed?
LL: What I found is that people grappled with the same kinds of things: intimacy versus access, fear of the unknown versus fear of nothing ever changing, fear of being alone versus fear of rejection, how do you maintain humanity and the ability to let go of expectations within a market that can exploit them? I think throwing the search for love and companionship against the backdrop of internet dating provides opportunity to look at what it is to grapple with these things within a very relevant context. I also think discussion about these things is much more useful to long-term fulfillment than a book of "rules to catch a man" any day of the week.
BWW: Do you think online dating is changing our desires and expectations regarding dating and romance?
LL: YES! This is the great reality and it can trip people up. Consistently, the people I've spoken with who are happy and/or have met someone online have related it to the ability to let go of expectations. It seems to me that our job is to learn how to navigate the world of online dating with heart, humor, and optimism sans expectations (tall order-progress not perfection!).
BWW: What are some of the joys and challenges of creating and starring in a one-woman show?
LL: This has been the most challenging and profitable experience of my life and I am eternally grateful for the chance to create work that resonates with so many people and to do it with personal and professional heroes of mine. Having said that, I sometimes call the show HATE* because, well, it just never ends, does it?
BWW: How have audiences responded to the show?
LL: I think that the general response is one of recognition and shared experience: even if you've never dated online, a majority of us know what it is to be lonely and to look for a way out of that feeling or experience. We are consistently amazed by the number of folks who stay after the show to talk about their own experience and open up to each other...we love that Date* seems to create a bit of community around this topic and encourage sharing. I think the reality of dating is often swept under the rug in place of discussion about how to get what you want, hopefully seeing the show invites a different kind of dialogue.
BWW: Any last thoughts for Austin theater-goers?
LL: Come see us! This is an innovative look at a slice of internet dating and its impact on how we look for love. The format is really cool: me, a bunch of filmed actors portraying people I interviewed, lap top, and a bottle of wine. 75 minutes/no intermission....and the chance to talk and share stories afterwards...come join the fun!
DATE* plays The Long Center for the Performing Arts (701 W. Riverside Drive, Austin 78704) February 3rd - February 8th. Performances are Tuesday - Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $27.50 - $32.50. For tickets and information, please visit www.thelongcenter.org.
DATE* is recommended for audiences 18 and up.