Like it or not, love will be in the air this Thursday night at Motorco Music Hall in downtown Durham. The stage is set for nearly a dozen different acts, all in the name of Valentine’s Day, under the collective title of LOVE: A Variety Show.
“The focus of the show is thinking about, feeling and experiencing love. An exploration of what it is to intellectualize and feel love in the world,” said Nicola Bullock, organizer and producer of the show.
A concept as complex as love lends itself well to a variety show, where each performance will bring its own entirely distinct interpretation of the Hallmark holiday that launches many cynics into bitterness.
“It’s a holiday that has so much surrounding it, and honestly, I don’t know anybody who really likes Valentine’s Day,” said Bullock. “I think it’s really understood and marketed two-dimensionally. Love is totally not two-dimensional, but we all kind of internalize shame on Valentine’s Day about not being the right way with love, not knowing how to love, not being in a relationship. And if we are, it’s not heteronormative, you know, everybody has their own variation. But really, Valentine’s Day is a great reason to think about and explore love in a way that’s more dynamic.”
Motorco, a downtown Durham staple, will act as a “vessel” for the show. “It’s a huge, beautiful space. A huge warehouse feeling, all windows at one side, high ceilings. It has established its own identity; I think it’s a very big space, a space to be filled with activity and people and sound and light,” said Bullock. And it will be filled, not with only music or dance or poetry, but rather a combination of various modes of expression.
“People are hungry for something deeper in terms of artistic expression. People want to be moved as much as they want to have a good time,” said Kegan Dean Rushing, a performance artist who will be providing one of the more secretive acts of the evening. And secrets, in this case, are exciting. “I found that when you put titles on things, that’s all people see. Other people’s interpretations leave the performance room to grow,” said Rushing.
UNC alumna Miss Victoria Belle AndrogeoFemme Hegemony—otherwise known as Victoria Facelli—will perform a monologue entitled “The Single Percent” about the universal tendency to define one’s own status, whether in or out of a relationship. As Bullock described, even the singles among us are at varying degrees of that singleness based on our behaviors. Someone skimming OKCupid profiles, fingers covered in Doritos dust, would probably be considered more single than someone at a singles mixer.
Other acts include Bevel Summers, a Chapel Hill band that promises to fill the room with energetic, lively blues music. Some students may recognize Duke faculty members Torry Bend and George Gopen as part of the evening’s lineup. Bend, an INDY award-winning puppeteer, is an assistant professor in Theater Studies. For her performance, Bend will be discussing a social experiment she’s been carrying out for the past year: as she travels around the world, Bend writes letters to strangers that include her Durham P.O. Box and encourages the recipients to reply. She will also be leaving a letter at Motorco that night as well. George Gopen, an English professor currently teaching a course that focuses on T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, will contribute to the evening with a reading of Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
“[In his reading, Gopen] embodies this kind of poem, this poem about looking back and reliving your life in some way,” said Bullock.
The variety of genres and modes of performance mirrors the diversity of Bull City: Durham is rich with cultural creativity, and on Thursday night, it will manifest onstage in many forms.
“It’s wonderful for Nicola to curate a show because she thinks this community needs it. I agree wholeheartedly,” said Rushing.
As Bullock said, “I want to create the kind of shows I want to go see. I’m interested in shows that make me think and make me feel. Thinking, feeling and experiencing are all one thing.”
This Valentine’s Day, you could do the ubiquitous dinner and a movie routine with your sweetheart or a group of single friends. You could sit alone in your room, cautiously avoiding the coconut crèmes in a Russell Stover variety box. But for those seeking a little more substance and a little more vibrancy, LOVE: A Variety Show at Motorco Music Hall promises to be a night anyone would love.
LOVE: A Variety Show will be performed tonight. Tickets are $8 in advance and $12 at the door. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the show begins at 9 p.m.