Encore Michigan

Open Book debuts new Zettelmaier work 3/4

News March 04, 2021 Encore Staff

TRENTON, Mich.–At this point we’re all used to connecting virtually with friends and family.  We’ve been video conferencing for all sorts of work and personal events for over a year.  It’s not hard to imagine feeling completely alone in this world, and trying to make a connection with someone through a computer.

That’s exactly what happens in Making New Friends During the Zombie Apocalypse, Open Book Theatre’s latest One to One Virtual Theatre performance.  After trying to survive “since things went all zombie” in her home in the Upper Peninsula, Tessa has decided to move south for warmer weather.  While foraging in an abandoned home for supplies, she comes across a computer that seems to have an open video chat feed, and tries to make a human connection.

“I like riffing on themes that resonate with the times we currently live in, but I had the urge to explore them without directly referencing COVID,” said playwright Joseph Zettelmaier. “And at the end of the day, I like plays about human connection, even if there’s only a single actor onstage.”  

Zettelmaier is a prolific Michigan playwright, whose plays have been staged at numerous Michigan theatres including Tipping Point, Williamston, Performance Network, Penny Seats, and Roustabout, as well as at theatres around the country.  This will be his first play for Open Book.  Artistic Director Krista Schafer Ewbank reached out to him last fall about writing a piece for this series, and is thrilled to finally get the chance to work together.  Zettelmaier agrees.  “I was more than happy to participate, as I’d wanted to work with Open Book for a while now!”

A year into a global pandemic, comparisons to various types of apocalypses aren’t new.  In fact, Open Book’s first commissioned play was The Complete Canon of Post-Apocalyptic Fiction and Film (abridged), performed to socially distant audiences in driveways this past summer.  “The world as we know it has changed, and we all see that,” said Schafer Ewbank, who is also directing this production. “Stories that deal with apocalyptic events are familiar to audiences. They give us a shorthand, a quick door in, which is needed when you’re doing a play in 10 minutes!” Zettelmaier adds “I admit, I’ve written more than a couple horror plays. I’m a fan of the genre. And while this isn’t in fact a horror show at all, it riffs on some tropes.”

Julia Garlotte plays Tessa.  “This is a very different kind of theatre than anything I’ve done before,” she said, “and I am so looking forward to the experience. Working on a new play by Joseph Zettelmaier is not new to me, however, and I love that I have another chance to tell one of his stories! This piece is about finding connection with other human beings, with which I think a lot of our audience members will identify these days. I certainly relate with a lot of Tessa’s dialogue, even if our circumstances are wildly different.”

Making New Friends During the Zombie Apocalypse opens March 4th, and runs Thursday and Monday evenings through March 22nd. Tickets are $20.  Audience members purchase a ticket for a 10 minute time slot and receive a Zoom link to log in. They are greeted by a virtual house manager who makes sure everything is working properly, and then the show begins.   More information about this show and Open Book’s other offerings can be found on their website, openbooktc.com.  Tickets can also be purchased by calling the theatre at 734 288-7753.

Week of 9/27/2021

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