We've all roamed around Craigslist at one time or another, looking for couches or jobs or something to do. And after seeing so many friends "dating or at least hooking up through Craiglist," playwright Sean Paul Mahoney decided that the time was ripe for the free online listing service to make its debut on the stage. He began surfing Craigslist for the most interesting personal ads he could find, with the idea of turning them into dramatic vignettes. The result is Casual Encounters/Missed Connections, a new play making its world premiere tonight at Spark Theater.
"It started out very heavy on the sex jokes, and it really could have been ninety minutes of sex jokes, like, 'You really are looking for someone in a clown costume to come over?'" Mahoney says. "But it felt like there was something else underneath it. The ads run the gamut from ridiculous stories to ones that are harrowing, interesting, touching and even heartbreaking. We're in a phase where we have more access to more information, yet people have never felt more isolated. You can post a picture of your privates online, but how many people actually hug or reach out to or touch one another?"
The sheer variety of those stories began to jell into a cohesive piece. "It's like I've been on an archeological dig through Craigslist, finding and reading all the stuff," Mahoney says of the research experience. "And now I feel as if I know way too much stuff -- more than any person should know. I've seen things I can't unsee." So instead, he's sharing them. See Casual Encounters/Missed Connections at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through February 18 at Spark, located upstairs at 240 South Broadway.
Mahoney will host a talkback after the February 2 performance, and on Monday, February 13, the troupe will throw a discounted pre-Valentine Day's bash with champagne and cupcakes made by the scribe himself. "I don't think you've ever seen Tracy Lett or Terrence McNally making cupcakes for their audience," Mahoney notes. Tickets are $10 to $20; get all the details at www.sparktheater.org or call 303-319-1342.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Jan. 27. Continues through March 29, 2012