As much as this play is about relationship love, it is also about the return of a love for live theatre shared by Tamara McCarthy and Julie Koebel.
The Other Press interviews actor Julie Koebel and director Tamara McCarthy on their upcoming play Love/Sick
By Craig Allan, Business Manager
Many areas of Douglas College were put on pause or switched to virtual meetings during the pandemic, but one area of the college that was affected more than most was the theatre program. Since March of 2020, students in the theatre program have had to trade in the cheers and laughter of a live audience for the camera lens of a Zoom virtual broadcast. With the pandemic subsiding and life getting back to normal, the theatre program was looking for the right play to welcome audiences back to live theatre. They found it in John Cariani’s play Love/Sick. The Other Press spoke with director Tamara McCarthy and actor Julie Koebel about their planning for Love/Sick, prepping for a play while still in the midst of COVID-19, and the unadulterated joy both share in the return of live theatre.
Both McCarthy and Koebel describe the play as a love cycle, showing the life of love from a young person through to older age. The play is divided into eight different short stories describing the flows of a love cycle; from the first moments of a relationship to the first “I love you”, stopping at a breakup or continuing to marriage with kids and old age. Because of this, if someone is sick with COVID-19, the production does not have to stop because of one person. These scenes take place in intimate locations like a bedroom, to more mundane places like a supermarket. With the world coming out of COVID-19, director McCarthy really wanted to do something that was funny and heartfelt, saying: “I really wanted to do something that had humour[…] Everyone can relate to love, and being in love.”
Koebel is no stranger to the theatre scene, having performed in plays like Heathers at D.W. Poppy Secondary School in Langley, and Once Upon a Fairytale with the Vagabond Players at The Bernie Legge Theatre in New West. She is taking what she has learned from those plays and other experiences in theatre and incorporating it into her roles in Love/Sick. “Everything in your past just builds the foundation that takes you to where you are,” Koebel explains. Koebel is playing three different women all involved in lesbian relationships in the play. These roles were not written in the original Cariani play but were created for this version due to a lack of male performers in the theatre program. However, this does not take away from the message the scenes are trying to convey. The themes of love, loss, and a journey through life are still as powerful and funny as they were when Cariani originally wrote the play.
There had been some difficulty filming the play during COVID-19, but McCarthy and the company found a unique way around that by creating an all-new character. For some of the more intimate moments, McCarthy encourages everyone to “Look for Gary at the SuperCenter. He’s a bit of a surprise character we made to help tell the story of the intimacy and kissing parts that we could not tell.” That being said, McCarthy did say that if she does do another play in the midst of COVID-19, she will do one that maybe involves a little less kissing and close contact.
Despite her feelings about doing a play this intimate during COVID-19, Koebel was very complimentary of her director, stating “She has made everything work. She has made everything feel natural.” When it comes to the training and performances with her fellow actors, Koebel said they were always encouraged to follow their instincts. “We worked a lot with impulses. [If] you feel the impulse to touch somebody, and you do it but you get stopped short [half]way, just because there is that barrier does not mean that that impulse is not fulfilled.”
As much as this play is about relationship love, it is also about the return of a love for live theatre shared by McCarthy and Koebel. Koebel was ecstatic about returning to live theatre, saying it felt amazing to be preparing for a live audience. McCarthy, who does plays around the Lower Mainland while also teaching at Douglas, echoed Koebel’s sentiments by saying how grateful she was to be back in the theatre.
Love/Sick will be the first Douglas College play to be done live with an in-person audience since November of 2019. It will be playing at the Studio Theatre located on Douglas College’s New West Campus from November 9-10, and 12-13. There will also be Q&A’s with the cast during the matinee show on the 10, and the night show on the 13. Tickets can be purchased at eventbite.com.
McCarthy, Koebel, and the rest of the cast are so very excited to welcome audiences back for some laughs and fun after a long time away from the stage. Come by the SuperCenter to see love grow and blossom through the 8 short plays of Love/Sick.