Theatre Program Launches Performance Season with I’m Very Into You

The first Sarah Lawrence theatre production of the 2019-2020 academic year takes place October 9 and 10 with the contemporary play I’m Very Into You, adapted and directed by guest artist Sara Lyons. A Los Angeles-based director, Lyons describes her work as seeking “to explode form and politic in critically embodied, often interdisciplinary new theatre and performance works.”

Based on the 1995 published correspondence between renowned feminist author Kathy Acker and Australian media theorist McKenzie (Ken) Wark, I’m Very Into You is set in San Francisco and Sydney at the cusp of the digital age. Lyons’ inspiration for the work began in a bookstore in 2015 when she first came across the newly published letters. Despite their academic jargon, she said, “the nuance of queer desire and affection” made the letters worthy of the stage. Lyons describes the play as using “social engagement, multimedia, and a stripped-down design to place Kathy and Ken's rich digital epistolary in conversation with our contemporary lives.” This is the first production of the play to utilize a college cast. 

The Acker-Wark letters on which the play is based document a specific moment in history: the digital age and the advent of millennials negotiating relationships online and through digital media. The correspondence reflects the trials and tribulations that arise from that specific type of interface.

I’m Very Into You explores the intimate communication between two people who most likely fit the labels of ‘gender fluid,'" said Lyons. “But it was a time in history before they had the language or community to engage with it in the same capacity that we do today.”

Lyons’ first adaptation of the letters included two actors and incorporated the drama of the letters and intergenerational themes. The adaptation for Sarah Lawrence is less conventional; it emphasizes the youthful themes of the play, thereby highlighting the College’s unique, tight knit community. It touches on themes—including gender, sex, and power—drawn from the letters but filtered through a contemporary lens.

“It’s not designed to be a period piece,” said Lyons. “Instead, it’s designed intentionally for the cast to bring the text to life with themselves. Performers were cast by virtue of who they are and how they can incorporate that into the text, instead of immersing themselves solely as the characters of Kathy and Ken. The actors are encouraged to tell their own stories, based on their own lives, to contribute to the piece. The play, then, uses the actors’ personal stories to amplify modern stories of queer desire and online intimacy.”

Performances of I’m Very Into You take place on Thursday, October 10 at 7 pm and Friday, October 11 at 6 pm and 9 pm at the Frances Ann Cannon Theater. Admission is free, and  ticket reservations are available through Eventbrite.