A prescription for empathy, Ana Nogueira’s Empathitrax is a pharmacological breakthrough in the romantic life of one couple.
Human relationships exist at the intersection of emotions and actions. In Ana Nogueira’s Empathitrax, we have a window into a futuristic sci-fi story of a young couple who turn to a pharmacological breakthrough to save their fractured relationship. The premise may be futuristic, but the story is extremely relatable.
“There’s something about this play… It’s very human. These people contain multitudes and contradictions,” Matteo Scammell told me.
Matteo Scammell and Claire Inie-Richards sat down for a joint interview in which they shared about Empathitrax’s eerie and comical exploration of the consequences of one pharmacological breakthrough in the romantic life of one couple.
The couple at the center of the story, known as Her and Him, are played by Claire Inie-Richards and Makoto Hirano. Matteo Scammell holds two roles, that of a pharmaceutical sales rep, Joe, and Him’s bro-ish friend Matty D.
Claire shared about how rich and wonderful it’s been to collaborate with her fellow cast members and to explore what she referred to as the “messiness” of a character whose feelings are fraught and occasionally fickle. “The piece is really saying that feelings aren’t enough. You have to back them up with the things that you do for yourself, and for other people, and the things you have to do for yourself in order to be able to do things for other people.”
Claire shared that playing the role of Her has been an invitation to explore her own messy humanity, and that she keeps a rehearsal journal in which she writes down her thoughts, feelings and ideas. The journal supports her in “unpacking the ease of some difficult moments in the play, but also not trying to overanalyze and lose the visceral reaction that I really depend on as a performer.”
Matteo may not write about his reflections, but he thinks deeply about them and enjoys the experience of exploration. “I enjoy playing the duality of both characters. I think both characters that I play are not one-dimensional, and I appreciate that. I find a lot of personal joy in this play, as someone who is on my own self-awareness journey.”
And because we’re all on our own journeys of awareness and evolution, Empithatrax is an invitation to laugh at and to learn more about each other and ourselves. You won’t want to miss it!
The production is directed by Nell Bang-Jensen, with Leslie Ann Boyden, Stage Manager, Lily Fossner, Lighting Designer, Chris Haig, Scenic Designer, Jillian Keys, Costume Designer, Jordan McCree, Sound Designer, and Abby Weissman, Intimacy Coordinator.
Empathitrax runs from February 10 through March 5 with an Opening Night on Wednesday, February 15 at 7 pm. All shows are performed at Philadelphia Theatre Company’s home at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146. Tickets are on sale now and start at $25. Tickets are available at www.philatheatreco.org, by calling 215-985-0420, or by visiting the Box Office.
Images: Ashley Smith