DU Alumni

Online dating stars in alumna’s one-woman show

Alumna Luciann Lajoie wrote and stars in "Date*," playing at the Denver Center through Saturday. Photo: Bonnie Arnold

When DU alumna Luciann Lajoie (BA ’00) moved back to Denver four years ago, she signed up on an online dating site.

Then she signed up on another.

And another.

Lajoie’s adventures in — and addiction to — online dating are told in her hilarious and touching one-woman show, “Date*,” playing at the Denver Center’s Jones Theatre through May 12. Lajoie wrote the play with creative guidance from Allison Horsley, an assistant professor in DU’s Department of Theatre. The play is directed by Ashlee Temple.

Although Lajoie is the only actor on stage during the play, the stories of about a dozen other online daters are told through video clips of actors projected on the stage wall. Their stories are based on real people: Over a span of three years, Lajoie interviewed more than 100 friends and friends of friends about their experiences dating online.

“The show is about real-life experiences and online personas,” Lajoie says. “We wanted to present a diversity of people: old, young, white, black, gay, straight — all kinds of people. We also wanted a range of experiences. There are people who found love and are very happy together, and it’s been wonderful for them. And there was a woman who was scammed out of $500,000.”

The setting for the play is a bare-bones bedroom. On a desk is a computer, a bottle of wine, a pack of cigarettes, Pop Tarts, a box of Nicoderm and a stick of deodorant, which Lajoie applies each time she changes into a new outfit and heads out for another date.

A video image of Lajoie’s computer is projected on the wall, allowing the audience to watch as she types her “profile” into a dating website. She subtracts a couple of years from her age and uploads a Photoshop-enhanced photograph. Her favorite book? She Googles “Great Books’’ and settles on Thoreau’s Walden.

During the play, Lajoie tells the audience about her online dating experiences, which range from no-shows to so-sos. Convinced Mr. Right is right around the corner, she starts stacking dates one after another. Finally, exhausted, she describes going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, where she tells the group: “Yes, I’ve been drinking way too much, but I’m really addicted to online dating.”

About her real-life experiences with online dating, Lajoie says: “I think the one thing I’ve learned is that all of this technology can dehumanize the very human experience of meeting new people and turn the process into something that feels like a series of job interviews or checklists.”

“That’s not to say I don’t believe this is a great way to meet people,” she says, “but this whole meeting-people process is clunky; it always has been. Then we set this expectation that technology is going to ease the process, [and] that’s where things can get a little bit off.”

Lajoie says she has found that people who are most successful with online dating are those with realistic expectations.

“These are people who tend to be in a good place. Their expectations are: ‘Hey, I’m going to meet someone,’ not, ‘I’m going to know within the first two minutes if he is ‘The One.’”

Date*’s final two performances are at 8 p.m. May 11 and 12; visit http://denveroffcenter.org/shows/date for tickets and information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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