Love by webcam
Long-distance relationships used to mean expensive toll calls, but a new Downstage production shows how the web has changed that.
Love You Approximately, which started last week, tells the story a blossoming love affair between Imogen and Pere.
They meet in Spain, but when Imogen returns to New Zealand the couple try to maintain their heartfelt connection through webcam and text messaging.
Lara Fischel-Chisholm, who plays Imogen, is on stage in Wellington while Olmo HidalgoSole, as Pere, is seen through video footage. His part was prerecorded in Spain and will be projected on to a large screen at the theatre.
Being on stage alone while speaking to pre-recorded video footage of Hidalgo-Sole was an interesting experience, said Fischel-Chisholm.
‘‘It’s funny. It feels lonely at the beginning and at the end [of the play], but during the rest of it, I forget Olmo’s part is prerecorded. It’s like he’s there.’’
Devising the show was even stranger, she said. They both pre-recorded scenes, so HidalgoSole could do the show in Spain and Fischel-Chisholm in New Zealand.
‘‘I was just sitting in a room staring into a camera and I would have someone off screen reading the other part. It was pretty strange,’’ said FischelChisholm.
‘‘ And when I was working with the first footage we took of Olmo, there were unexpected gaps or he had said a line backwards or I laughed when I was trying to say something, so there were a lot of adjustments to make.’’
Love You Approximately was created by theatre group The Clinic, which has members in New Zealand and Spain.
Fischel-Chisholm worked with co-director Lucette Hindin in Wellington while Hidalgo and director Julieanne Eason worked from Spain.
The webcams and video chat programme Skype failed at times, but those pitfalls have been incorporated into the show.
‘‘Skype can be unpredictable, because you can be cut off, or video won’t work. Everything we experienced with technology when we were devising the show, we’ve put in the show.
‘‘We have scenes where the technology fails.’’
The team has extensively used technology for the play, even setting up Facebook profiles for their characters.
Fischel-Chisholm said there had been some funny moments with people contacting her Facebook character.
‘‘There was one guy – I wasn’t sure if he knew Imogen was a character and was playing along, or whether he thought she was a real person. It’s quite funny.’’
Working with so much technology had its benefits, she said.
‘‘I’ve become braver with technology, especially with all the Skype stuff.’’
Love You Approximately is at Downstage until March 5.
Lovesick: As Imogen, Lara Fischel-Chisholm uses text messaging and Skype to keep a long-distance relationship going.