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'Fear of Buildings' premieres on the virtual stage through LAB! Theatre Company

Sam. photocreds-Olivia Herrera.jpeg

Sam Bible-Sullivan, playwright of LAB!'s "Fear of Buildings." Photo courtesy of Olivia Herrera.

LAB! Theatre Company will showcase “Fear of Buildings,” a free virtual production, from Oct. 23-25.

"Fear of Buildings" is a comedy about two characters who run into each other on the street. There is an omniscient presence commenting on what they talk about, who they eventually meet.

Sam Bible-Sullivan, the playwright and a UNC senior majoring in communication studies, said the play started out as a 10-minute piece. After taking it to a theater conference, he was recommended to turn it into a full-length play.

The play is about the absurdism of life and the systems people unknowingly buy into. Anish Pinnamaraju, the director of the play and executive director of LAB! Theatre, said it questions the larger purpose of things, involving many arguments, roundabout humor and wordplay.

“Not only did we love the script, we loved the potential it could be and the places we could explore with it because it’s a really wacky, insane script,” Pinnamaraju said.

Pinnamaraju said he hopes to bring a moment of levity to people in the audience who are struggling and could use a laugh.

“Since the world is so crazy right now, it’s super easy to transpose the lessons we learn in this play to real life,” Pinnamaraju said.

The play was originally supposed to be performed in spring 2020 but was canceled when in-person events were shut down.  

“It will be a different form than what theaters have been done in for a long time now,” Bible-Sullivan said. “Theaters are kind of having to adapt and figure out how to exist in these different virtual forms.”

He said what he will miss most is not being able to see people's reactions. In the virtual format, he won't know if jokes are landing or not. 

Sophomore Lauren Flors, who is majoring in dramatic art and English and comparative literature, is playing the role of Tyne, who is one of the three main characters.

“Tyne is super funny, she takes everything very literally and she is constantly making jokes to the point that Orion, the other character, becomes super frustrated with her,” Flors said.

Flors said rehearsals are on Zoom, and the play itself will take the format of a Zoom call but will be streamed live on YouTube.

“We're not just accepting that it has to be virtual, but we actually did integrate that aspect into the script,” Flors said.

She said she is ready to face the challenge of bringing the energy of live theater when she's sitting in her room alone.

“As an actor, when you say your big punchline and get that laugh, it does fuel you and keep you going,” Flors said. “I think the most difficult part is going to be having this energy and trusting the audience is into it.”

Flors said she hopes it's a relief from the quarantine blues — something fun and different for the audience.

“I think right now, we’re all in kind of a weird place where we’re thinking about reality a lot and what we thought we knew,” Flors said. “I hope it’s funny and enjoyable and also gives something interesting to think about.”


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