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.

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