New play about relationships focuses on bisexuality, environmental issues

UI production Love Bird will open at 8 p.m. today in Theater Building Theater B. Inspired by an article in the Washington Post, Nigel finds himself on an island. The unexpected ensues.


Katie Goodale

UI students Michael Juarez (left) and Octavius Lanier (right) perform a dance during the LoveBird play rehearsal in the Theater Building on Tuesday, October 16, 2018. LoveBird, by K.T Peterson and directed by Erica Vannon, features castaways Nigel and Norman as they struggle with life on the island and struggle with their increasingly complicated relationship.

Madison Lotenschtein, Arts Reporter

Playwright K.T Peterson was reading a Washington Post article, as many do on a normal day. On this day, inspiration was sparked by a story of a seabird, Nigel, who traveled alone to the island of Mana, which had been filled with decoy birds. Nigel was unaware he was being closely observed by scientists and that the other birds were fake.

He took an interest with one decoy and remained by its side, building it a nest and pursuing this extremely one-sided relationship until he died. Peterson was inspired by the article and wrote the play Love Bird, which will open at 8 p.m. today in Theater Building Theatre B.

“The article made me think about the devotion people (or animals) are willing to give,” Peterson said. “It’s about the meditation on the disposable matter of modern relationships. There are a lot of, ‘What’s in it for me?’ mindsets today, and I think that it is hard for us to say yes to love.”

The star of the show, Nigel, pops up a remote island, hoping to find himself on the small oasis. He later meets Norman, the love interest of the plot.

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“The play is queer and deals with bisexuality,” Peterson said. “Bisexuality is almost always used as a device or an afterthought, for a plot twist for cheating/infidelity or something. There are so many plays I’ve never read by so many great writers; I can only speak to what I’m aware of, but media depiction of bisexual people in general seems to be very one-dimensional or misinformed.”

Director Erica Barnes found Love Bird difficult to cast, because there are only two characters to maneuver through the rocky shores of the plot.

How can one choose between so many actors? If chosen, the duo must have a connection and exceptional stage presence.

“Michael Juarez [Nigel] and Octavius Lanier [Norman] have incredible presence and are doing a wonderful job of listening and really bouncing energy off of each other — something so key in a play about connection and missed connections,” Barnes said. “They are both so committed to the exploration of the characters and the discovery of the relationship onstage.”

Love Bird also displays the horrors of environmental crises. Trash and recyclables are littered across the stage-floor, and Nigel collects the trash and builds a little home on the island.

The dirty finger-prints of humans have smeared Nigel’s corner of the world.

“We want people to feel slightly changed,” dramaturge Morgan Grambo said. “To be able to think about our own relationships and be able to reflect, and I hope they visualize how the trash is closing in on the birds.”