DramaTech’s upcoming production of Five Faces for Evelyn Frost takes place in a social media ecosystem powered by lists, likes, loves, and lies. Behind the bright lights of smartphone screens, identities are constructed and realities are blurred.
The play, written by French-Canadian playwright Guillaume Corbeil and translated by Steven McCarthy, is making its U.S. and English-language debut at Georgia Tech in February. Five Faces follows five friends who chronicle their lives through their online personae, and the play’s unconventional dialogue takes the form of social media posts, such as status updates, photo captions, and private messages.
On the surface, Five Faces is a sendup of youthful Internet culture in the Facebook era, but as the play progresses it becomes a dark, complex meditation on how we perceive and present ourselves to others in digital spaces. At the center of it all is Evelyn Frost, a woman whose seemingly flawless online persona masks a life story more painful than the one told through her social media posts.
“It talks about the lingering impression that is left on social media,” said Melissa Foulger, Ivan Allen College associate academic professional and DramaTech’s artistic director. “As you go on, there is an accumulation of persona that remains, even if you don’t anymore.”
The set design for Five Faces complements the dialogue’s examination of the interplay between identity and technology. Characters hold mobile devices and are confined to specific areas of the stage while wires on the ground symbolically connect them. The centerpiece of the set is a tall cluster of screens that display the updates and photos the characters are posting — Foulger said the cast and crew are in the process of gathering and editing hundreds of images for the production.
“We’re playing with saturation, the overwhelming sense you get from seeing all these posts at once,” she said.
During a rehearsal in late January, the cast was relaxed and playful as they explored their characters’ motivations and quirks. As their dialogue fluidly transitioned between sarcastic quips, tense moments of sadness, and passionate declarations of self-expression, the actors immersed themselves in a wide spectrum of emotions and topics prevalent on social media platforms.
“I think we all have ‘those people’ on Facebook,” said Lexie Scott, a freshman student in the school of Literature, Media, and Communication. “This show magnifies those things so we can look more critically at ourselves.”
The cast acknowledges that some audience members may be put off by Five Faces’ adult themes and experimental storytelling techniques, but they hope the production will be provocative and leave a lasting impression. Sophomore chemistry major Will Penniman articulated what he believes to be an ideal audience reaction: “I’m not exactly sure what I just saw, but I know that it was true, important, and that I feel it.”
“Watching it performed, I think people are going to really get to feel what it means,” Penniman said.
Five Faces for Evelyn Frost runs from February 19 - 27 at the Dean James E. Dull Theater. Visit dramatech.org to reserve tickets.