“I thought it would be cool to audition — I’ve always had an interest in the shows of the Department of Communication,” Kennedy said.
One of Kennedy’s castmates is Christina Banalopoulou, who received her master’s in theater and performance studies at the University of Maryland.
“Many things make this event unique,” Banalopoulou said. “On a conceptual level, it’s everything I want theater to be. It really puts you out of your comfort zone. Also, sometimes we are manipulated without even knowing about it, and sometimes conceptions that are supposed to be revolutionary like utopia are a part of the process. It will be great for people to see this first-hand.”
Banalopoulou met Daniel Dilliplane, the director of "Utopia Machine," while completing her master’s at the University of Maryland. Dilliplane also completed his master’s at the University of Maryland in theater and performance studies, and he is currently working on his Ph.D. in communications at UNC.
“The concepts from 'Utopia Machine' stem from a lot of different research projects,” Dilliplane said. “I’ve been really interested in the way the role of performance plays in developing group and feelings of collective identity. I was exploring the relationship of performance to political group formation. It goes with my interest in the blend of the disembodied world of the internet with the material world that we encounter on a daily basis.”
Dilliplane said the show was designed to be different from a typical theater show. Instead of being welcomed and given a program, audience members will be invited into a building that has been transformed into the “utopia machine,” where they are encouraged to participate instead of being on the outside looking in.
“In some ways, audience participation is a significant aspect of this show,” Dilliplane said. “A major theme is to show that so much of what we do politically is to watch and wait for a political savior to take us out of the mess we’re in. One of the things we’re trying to show is that we each have to make the change in our own daily lives. We have to take action.”
Dilliplane added that the point of "Utopia Machine" is not to pass judgement on social media, but to make people more conscious about the way they’re using it.
“It’s only through an ignorance in the ways in which social media is shaping us that we’re at the whim of the machine,” Dilliplane said.