Play combining broken relationships and climate change debuts in Chicago

November 14 2007

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - A unique play combining global warming, love, and catastrophe has earned an Indiana State University theater professor a Chicago debut.

Peter Papadopoulos’ “Lost Love” will be performed Nov. 17 through Dec. 22 at Chicago’s Stage Left Theatre by the Hypatia Theatre Company.

The work can be described as an edgy romantic comedy tragedy, combining broken relationships, ruined wedding days, and climate change.

“The idea for the play first came from an image of a bride stranded on a mountain peak,” Papadopoulos said. “That image, coupled with my great concern about global warming came together.”

“Lost Love” chronicles the experience of Mitzy, a waterlogged bride, who finds herself stranded on a mountaintop with Tito, a streetwise, Zen-wise parking valet, after an epic storm flooded her wedding. Several states away, Jan spirals into a state of existential madness as a result of girlfriend Barb’s infidelity, as images of storm refugees appear non-stop on television. The plot leaves audiences wondering if these characters find their way back to love in time to save themselves and the planet.

The storyline bears some resemblance to a recent, notable event in American weather history.

“Hurricane Katrina was definitely an influence,” he said.

In addition to Mother Nature, innovative theatre-maker Charles Mee influenced the Connecticut-born playwright. Mee is known for his collage-style playwriting incorporating music. Mee’s trilogy of love plays, “Big Love,” “True Love,” and “First Love,” inspired Papadopoulos to write his own love trilogy.

“His writing is a big influence on mine,” Papadopoulos said. “My works are a very loose trilogy in response to his.”

After years of conversations with Mee, ISU colleague Christopher Berchild, director Oskar Eustis, and other theater artists around the country, Papadopoulos coined the term “Mojo Theatre” in an attempt to describe the kind of art they were creating. Ongoing discussions with Berchild, often while working together on ISU productions, further defined this innovative style of play-making. Mojo Theatre utilizes expressionism, absurdism, lyrical language, and storytelling infused with social and political undertones. He jokes that this is a junkyard form of writing, incorporating everything “including the kitchen sink.”

“I like to put lots of things together that don’t seem to belong together at first,” he said, adding, “That’s where the energy comes from.”

Papadopoulos, who teaches acting and playwriting at Indiana State, lets what’s going on in the world come into his plays.

“I channel what’s happening in the world around me. I borrow a little something from everywhere.”

A former newspaper reporter in south central Connecticut, Papadopoulos said the skills he learned back then help him today as he’s crafting his plays.

“I learned how to write fast and tight and to type as fast as politicians could talk,” he said.

While he is excited about his Chicago debut, it’s something he takes in stride.

“I don’t think you can gauge what this means to your career in an objective way. I guess that’s a very old school way of looking at things,” he said. “The world is changing fast, and those changes are only going to accelerate rapidly.”

What does excite him is the realization that he is not the only one concerned about global warming.

“A few theaters get it--and want to take it beyond me,” he said.

Papadopoulos’ plays have been produced and published in the United States, Australia, and China. His short play “In the Cool Cool Cool” was recently named a finalist for the 2007 Actors Theatre of Louisville Heideman Award.

“Last Love,” the first play of Papadopoulos’ Mojo Love Trilogy, recently ran at the Totem Theatre in Alice Springs, Australia. “Lost Love” was named a finalist in the Northern Kentucky University YES New Play Festival, the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, the Bloody Unicorn Queer Women’s Play Festival, and the Kitchen Dog Theatre New Works Festival.

Papadopoulos admits all this wouldn’t be possible without the support of his colleagues in the theater department.

“In theater, you have all these extra projects,” he said. “To have people step in and help me out has been great. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

With two works in the trilogy completed, Papadopoulos has one work remaining.

“I don’t have a set timeline as far as writing the third and final piece,” he said.

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Contact: Peter Papadopoulos, ISU Theater Department, (812) 237-3335 or ppapadopoul@isugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or pmeyer4@isugw.indstate.edu

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A unique play combining global warming, love, and catastrophe has earned an Indiana State University theater professor a Chicago debut.

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