In a time where virtual connection is more important than ever, a play originally written for the stage has found itself transformed into an online collage of content, whether that be monologues shot in an apartment, scenes filmed with an Iphone on a street in suburbia or a piece of virtual art.
Tomorrow Will Be Sunday (working title), a piece by award-winning playwright and performer Heather Raffo, explores the idea of invisible connections in a suspenseful thriller that follows people on the move around the world and the strings that tie them together.
Chautauqua Theater Company will introduce its second New Play Workshop project Tomorrow Will Be Sunday (working title) at 8:15 p.m. EDT Wednesday, July 22, on the CHQ Assembly Virtual Porch.
The play was developed through a McKnight Residency at The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis and is currently still in the workshop phase, with a premiere date yet to be set. Its time at Chautauqua and the NPW program is funded by the Roe Green Foundation.
Director Jenny Koons feels especially connected to the content of the play, and has enjoyed her collaboration with Raffo.
“Heather talked a lot about the invisible web and network that connect people around the world, both economically and interpersonally, and the ways that people move,” Koons said. “It really resonated, because for the past few years I have worked on projects that have done a lot of research into the refugee crisis, and this moment of time that we are in where mass numbers of humans are moving around the world for different reasons.”
Originally intended to follow a traditional format, Tomorrow will be Sunday (working title) has been transformed by both Koons and Raffo as a response to the transition onto CTC’s virtual platform. The play will be a series of scenes, monologues and images that do not seem connected at first but begin to fit together as the narrative expands.
“Once you start to step back, you start to see connections,” Koons said. “There’s something about it that feels really kaleidoscopic and is trying to embrace the sprawl of globalization and the myriad of ways that we are connected to each other.”
Each of the 34 CTC Conservatory members collaborating on the project brings something unique to the play, which Koons believes has helped shape the production into the format she called a collage.
“It is less a single narrative and more attempting to zoom way out, to see a lot of people instead of just a few,” she said.
Though Koons has enjoyed the process of directing a play virtually, she has found it difficult to recreate the element of closeness that would be present in a traditional NPW.
“The thing that is challenging for all of us in this moment is how to build community and intentional gathering spaces in this time that feels so deeply isolating,” Koons said. “In olden times, we would have been in a room of 40 people, which has an energy and a spirit and a breath to it which is palpable, and establishes a level of trust and play and playfulness that is harder to conjure in a virtual space.”
However, the shared struggle of reaching out across the internet has inspired much of the production and workshop process, especially when it comes to Raffo’s analysis of global connection.
“In the last four months, so many of the ideas about invisible ties, networks or connections are suddenly so glaringly visible in how we are all, as a planet, encountering this moment in time,” Koons said.
Each aspect of the play has been shaped by each of these challenges, said Koons, who believes that this is an entirely unique production that could not be recreated in different circumstances.
“Regardless of what it is that we share, it will be such a capsule of this moment of time,” Koons said. “In a way, the play could only happen like this in this moment.”