Cecilia Bellomy and Chorsie Calbert, both fourth-years in theatre, are cast to play in the performance of “7 Ways to Say I Love You.” Credit: Courtesy of Matt Hazard

There are five love languages, but the Ohio State Department of Theatre will show seven ways to say “I love you.”

The department is set to present “7 Ways to Say I Love You” starting Wednesday. The 2015 play written by Adam Szymkowicz is a collection of seven stories that explore different ways love is expressed. It is the third production for Laura Falb, cast member and second-year in theater.

“It takes a look at really different extremes and how love can be a common theme in so many different ways,” Falb said. “Every scene involves people who are completely different from each other … Every single scene is a whole brand new universe, but they all have the common theme of love.”  

Falb is one of the play’s six cast members, each of whom will play at least two different roles. A small cast is characteristic of the department’s “raw theater,” or a typically more experimental theater installment presented each year. The show will be held in the Riverview Room with a small stage and added risers in a circular formation around it, creating a non-traditional theater space. The set will be minimal, with only a few pieces of furniture as props, and no additional lighting to add to the room’s overhead lights.

The cast was solidified in November and rehearsals began on the first day of Spring Semester. Now, four and a half weeks into the semester, the love-centered play will be opening a week before Valentine’s Day.

The minimal production elements coupled with the play’s plot of unconnected stories, creates advantages and challenges for the cast and crew.

“Because they’re different stylistically we weren’t bound by one aesthetic,” said director Kevin McClatchy. “When you go to a play there’s one story, one narrative. It’s the same from beginning to end. There is a consistency that has to exist … we weren’t necessarily bound by that. The tone of the pieces shift all over the place.”  

However, a common thread of the play still persists, McClatchy said.  

“There’s a unifying sense to all of them, the notion of being somewhere in a big city and still what happens to you when you’re lonely, surrounded by millions of people, what it is that makes you need or try and find for yourself. That’s the consistent part,” he said.   

On the other hand, McClatchy and the cast had to find a way to unify the stories and the theme of love, so audience members feel like they are at one performance. They decided to do so by using music. McClatchy said this was a collaborative process involving he and the cast. Together, they came up with songs that fit the themes of each act to use as transitions. Falb put together an acappella version of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” for one of the transitions.

Ronda Christie, a second-year in theatre, ended up with a ukulele part.

“This is the first time I’ve ever played an instrument on stage, because I’m playing ukulele for all this which is daunting but really exciting” she said.

While discussing the challenges of performing comedy, McClatchy compared the show to the seasonally appropriate “rom-coms.”

“Sometimes it’s easier to play a dramatic scene, come in and have an argument, that’s easy. Come in and fall in love, that’s hard,” McClatchy said. “That’s why romantic comedies, when you find a good one, when you watch a film and go, ‘Man, that’s a great one,’ and that makes up for the 10 other ones I saw that weren’t so great. It’s hard, so that’s what we’re trying to do; it’s sort of a stage version of mini romantic comedies.”  

“7 Ways to Say I Love You” will be showing from Feb. 8 through 18 in the Riverview Room of the Drake Performance and Events Center. Tickets are $15 for students.