‘Looking’ to see if love really is blind

By Korea Herald
  • Published : May 17, 2017 - 14:51
  • Updated : May 17, 2017 - 14:59

First dates weren’t always about Tinder swipes and photo-approved introductions. Blind dates used to be just that -- meetings with someone without knowing what they looked like.

Changwon Community Theatre is going back to that time with “Looking,” Norm Foster’s tale of singles looking for love as they approach middle age.

Two of them meet for a date in a bar via a newspaper personal ad.

Nicole Heker, Ifoma Genevieve Rothblatt, Jordan Schauer and Brendan Thompson will appear in Norm Foster’s “Looking,” in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province. (Sunil Mahtani)

Each brings their friends as backup in case things go awry. The play follows up on the night as the four characters try to decide whether they have really found what they are looking for.

But being written when the smartphone was just a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye, some of the play’s set-up may come across as strange to younger theatergoers.

“In Tinder you see the photo before you even swipe left or right -- before you even say hello you see the picture,” said director Sunil Mahtani. “And certainly with smartphones, even if your friends have set you up in a blind date and they’ve connected you through Facebook or any other technology, the first thing you’re going to do is send pictures to each other.”

To address this, Mahtani has turned the play into a kind of modern period piece, using music and costumes from the 1990s.

“Basically it was written before all of that was available, and to highlight that further, I’ve set it in 1999, so the phones are all poor quality,” he said.

“It makes the premise much more believable that a woman would be meeting a guy in a bar that she’s never even seen a picture of him before. She’s barely even spoken to him.”

Nicole Heker, Ifoma Genevieve Rothblatt, Jordan Schauer and Brendan Thompson will appear in Norm Foster’s “Looking,” in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province. (Sunil Mahtani)

The set-up aside, Mahtani believes the basic aspects of human relationships have not really changed for a very long time, and the core of the story is universal.

“It just shows what everybody goes through -- the insecurities that they have about themselves, the fact that you have your list about what you want in your ideal partner,” he said. “When you meet somebody who doesn’t meet up to that list, do you drop them and never see them again or do you lower your standards. Do you change what you are looking for?”

“I think they are all the same insecurities we have today: Am I attractive enough? Am I too old? Am I too fat? Do we have enough in common? Is it just sex?”

The play will also raise some money to help Rithe Oga, Korea’s fourth Gaelic football team, based in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, which has both senior and children’s teams.

“It’s kind of exciting that there is Irish football at all anywhere in Korea, and it’s exciting that there is some here in Changwon,” said Mahtani. “So we are doing this fundraiser to help them out so that they can pay for their uniforms and their pitch fees and stuff like that.”

The play runs June 3-4 and June 10-11 at the Changwon Civic Stadium theater below section 2F-5. Performances are 8 p.m. Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are 10,000 won in advance or 15,000 won at the door. They are available from O’Briens and Pizzeria Da’Genna or on the Changwon Community Theatre Facebook Page.

By Paul Kerry (