Christina Andreola is a managing producer at SHIFT Theatre Society, with past experience in stage management and directing. After chronicling one too many appalling dates, she and director Deneh Cho’ Thompson decided to pen the script for The Dudes of My Life, a look at what it’s like to balance family expectations for a life partner with what’s actually available in the world of Tinder.
Sad Mag: You’re used to being behind the scenes as a producer, director and stage manager. What’s it like being on stage now, and even more so, acting solo?
Christina Andreola: Being on this side is a little frightening. And it’s a lot of fun. At a certain point you just have to go. The metaphor I use is the train is leaving the station whether you’re on it or not so you just have to keep working. There was one day where I went through a year’s worth of theatre training in an hour. It was a lot of learning how to be on this side. It’s a lot harder than it looks, I should say.
SM: How did you and your director, Deneh, come to work together?
CA: One evening I went on a two in one (two dates in one evening). I came home from number two, which was a bit abysmal. Deneh is one of my roommates, and I was telling him all about it, and he said, “If you ever want to do a show about your dudes, let me know.”
One year for Christmas I got a big Moleskine notebook and I thought it would be funny to start writing down all the guys I interacted with on dates. And the same thing happened in 2011, 2012, 2013… we started plotting that material onto a graph, and looking through the history was a little terrifying.
SM:Was there one particular experience that sparked the writing of this play?
CA: That was “Survivor Liar.” It was the second of the two-in-one dates, and we were out at the Storm Crow for three hours and it was awesome. But as it was closing, I got up to use the bathroom and he had texted me instead of his roommate. It said, “Hey buddy, tape Survivor for me. Date’s going ok, not sure if I want to keep talking to her though.” I looked at my phone and I was mortified. I told him he’d texted the wrong person, and he was embarrassed. But then it was another ten minutes before they brought the bill over. So it was awkward. Then when we were leaving I told him, “Don’t worry, you probably feel worse about it than I do. It was nice to meet you.” He said, “Yeah, maybe I’ll see you again.” I turned around and called him a liar. So that’s “Survivor Liar.” It made for a great story to tell at parties, though.
SM:What role does your family play in the show?
CA: My mom is a big part of the show. She’s always been pro independence and telling me I can be whomever I want, and telling me not to settle for any guy. She’s always giving me advice and that advice turned into rules or guidelines, so she’s been the voice in my head. I have 14 family members, and we get together at all the big holidays. I’ve brought home a few people and it’s like the family gauntlet. So it’s one thing to have my mom’s set of rules, and to also know what I’m looking for in a guy, but then to balance all these other expectations gets pretty difficult.
SM: You reference the 90’s rom-com genre in the play. Do you feel a sense of loss connected to how dating’s changed since those days?
CA: It’s a very interesting world, dating online. I haven’t tried anything other than Tinder. It’s crazy to have to get to know a person by making a snap judgment based on their looks and a short write-up. Specifically on Tinder, which is just like hot or not. I’ve heard of Tinder parties where someone’s phone gets hooked up to the TV and then everyone swipes through the photos. I’ve had family Tinder experiences, where they’ve seen a profile I brought home and they all decided to swipe for him.
SM: What will you be working on next?
CA: We have a show coming up at The Shop in October for which I’ll be a managing producer, a role I’m much more comfortable in. It’s a spooky show, perfect for around Halloween time.
SM: How will your experience in the role of actor affect your perspective as a producer?
CA: It’s very eye opening. I’ve been put on a ban from doing any producing or going to meetings; I’m not allowed to do anything except learn my lines, learn my blocking, and act. The show is very prop heavy, too. Sometimes as a producer you can get caught up in deadlines and technical details, but on the artistic side sometimes you have to be open to working last minute on the script or making revisions right up until the end.
SM: What’s your favourite go-to drink for a first date?
CA: If I’m at the Narrows, Strongbow. Or a Michelada at Los Cuervos. Or whatever’s on tap at The Whip. I’ve got some regular places.
The Dudes of My Life is playing at The Shop Theatre August 19-23rd.