Among the things that make the Robert E. Cook Honors College unique is its faculty: some of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s finest teach Honors Core Seminars. Mr. Jason Chimonides, a professor in the Theater and Dance Department, currently teaches the fine arts units of Freshman Core. His area of expertise is playwriting, and he continues to write part time.
In 2008, his first play, The Optimist, was published. He wrote it during graduate school at Florida State University, where he studied directing. Mr. Chimonides studied acting as an undergraduate, but he could never find monologue material that really “fit” him in other plays. During a study abroad experience in England, writing his first one-act “absolutely blew my mind open.” According to him, this is exactly how people discover their true callings: “you try a bunch of stuff until something works.” For Jason Chimonides, writing works.
Currently, Mr. Chimonides is working on getting his new play, Serverlove, published. He splits his time between Indiana, Pa., and New York City as different theater companies try on the play for size. In October, Manhattan Class Company (MCC) performed a reading of Serverlove. A reading requires three or four hours of rehearsal before a public “demo” on the same evening. If MCC chooses to produce the play, it will become available for publication. Once it is published, it will be free for production by theater companies across the U.S. and Canada, just like The Optimist.
“I write for personal realization first,” says Mr. Chimonides of his writing process. “I start with an idea,” and that idea grows into forty to fifty pages of raw notes. “Writing is a way of thinking about the world . . . it’s [the play is] me and what I’m thinking about . . . me and my unconscious sit down together, it’s leading.” For Serverlove, his unconscious alerted him to the eerie way technology has been designed to become as user friendly as possible: when a video game feels it’s been played for too long, it suggests that the user do something else for a while; programs and gadgets remember “recently opened” documents and “recently played” songs; etc. Professor Chimonides started out with the thought: “I’m really patient with people, but not with technology.” From that, the world of Serverlove blossomed: “[a] virtual reality world ala The Matrix, just as real as the real world . . . [full of] beings you interact with designed to give you exactly what you want.” He hopes Serverlove’s “metaphor [is] universal.”
Mr. Chimonides has already put two or three months into journaling ideas and two months into a draft of the script. Now it’s finally time for him to “get out of the cave” and experience Serverlove with people. He’s “really interested in what it might mean for you.” The risk “that people don’t get it” is a risk worth taking. Hopefully, Serverlove strikes a chord with an acting troupe so audiences can soon interpret Mr. Chimonides’s latest work.
By Theresa Hoffmann