Closer Than They Appear, the Process Series 10th Anniversary Season: Reinvention opener, has received spectacular reviews.
The show, written by Christine Evans and directed by Joseph Megel with media design by Jared Mezzochhi, “tells the colliding stories of Michael, an African American veteran undergoing virtual reality therapy for PTSD, and Zaynab, a teenager from Fallujah blogging during the Iraq war. It explores the haunted human lives—both American and Iraqi—that shadow the digital surfaces through which we wage, view, and recover from war. The play blends scripted live performance with projections developed from the animated landscapes of Virtual Iraq, a virtual-reality program based on video-game graphics and developed as a therapy tool for US veterans suffering from PTSD by the Institute for Creative Technologies at USC.”
Reviews Are In! by StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance highlights reviews by Byron Woods and Alan R. Hall as well as a message from actress Elisabeth Lewis Corley and director Joseph Megel: “We are also looking forward to our final panel discussion, focused on veterans and civilian casualties following the matinee of Sunday, September 24th.”
Byron Woods of INDY Week states the “thought provoking” show “Closer Than They Appear probes the cutting edges of virtual reality, the military, and PTSD treatment.”
Alan R. Hall of CVNC: An Online Arts Journal in North Carolina writes “the show…is the first to combine live performance with the new technology of Virtual Reality,” which is accomplished by “using the entire stage for a screen…[projecting] for us what Michael sees in his VR.” Hall’s article, “Virtual Reality Becomes a Healing Tool in Closer Than They Appear”, provides more details on the show’s creation and performance. In the second to last paragraph of his article, Hall writes:
“Closer Than They Appear literally places war-torn Iraq in our laps. We see it as clearly as does Michael, through virtual reality. We see it through the eyes of an innocent, Zaynah, as her family shrinks around her. We feel it through the frustrations of Hanna as she fights to reach Michael and as she fights to reach her own daughter. If war is hell, this is what hell looks like in the 21st century.”
On Tuesday, September 19, playwright Christine Evans, media designer Jared Mezzochhi, and actors Elisabeth Lewis and Trevor Johnson shared their thoughts about the show on WUNC 91.5 with host Frank Stasio. Listen here.
For performance and ticket information, visit The Process Series website. Learn about more performances sponsored by the UNC Department of Communication on the Events page at comm.unc.edu and the COMM department Facebook page.