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Play Based on Text Messages Performed in Private Union Square Living Room

 A new play called "We Were Nothing" is showing out of an actor's living room in Union Square.
'We Were Nothing'
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UNION SQUARE — This theater is so far off Broadway, it's in an actor's living room.

A new play called "We Were Nothing" is being performed in a Union Square loft through Feb. 2, and director Lisa Szolovits said the cozy location perfectly suits the show.

“I don’t think it belongs in a Broadway theater,” Szolovits said of the show, which is based on text messages a pair of best friends send while living far apart. “It’s purposefully a homegrown design. It’s a curtain of quilts, and light fixtures you might find around the house, instead of stage lights.

“It’s almost like we could be their parents," she continued, "watching them put on this play.”

The stage is set up in the living room of a Union Square home where one of people working on the play has lived for many years, Szolovits said. Because the show is taking place in a private space, the address is only revealed to those who purchase a ticket online for $20, Szolovits said.

"We're trying to keep the address secret, because we don’t want people just wandering up there," she said.

A scattering of chairs and a bench provide seating for an audience of up to 40 people for each hourlong performance. The actors mostly stay in the loft's living room but at one point move into the adjacent kitchen, Szolovits said.

The play's story revolves around two close friends who are living away from each other while they attend college. The script is based on the text messages, emails and chats that they send each other to stay in touch, and some are based on real-life text messages from members of the cast, Szolovits said.

“There’s no indication of which form of technology they’re using,” Szolovits said of the actors, who share the stage even as the characters are meant to be many miles apart. “They’re not on a laptop typing it out. They’re speaking through this technological language face-to-face.”

The play was written by Will Arbery, in collaboration with Shelley Fort, Elly Smokler, Emilie Soffe and Szolovits, the director. The group, who are all in their 20s, met doing other theater projects in New York City. The two best friends are played by Smokler and Soffe.

The group began working on the project in the spring of 2012, and because the members were often living in different parts of the country, they sometimes had to resort to Skype rehearsals, Szolovits said.

They put on their first performance last spring in a brownstone in Bed-Stuy, but that was only for a weekend. Szolovits said it was important to her to keep the show's intimate vibe when moving it to Union Square this winter.

"It's kind of like we're really hanging out in a living room together," Szolovits said.

Performances of "We Were Nothing" will take place Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. through Feb. 2. Visit www.artful.ly/store/events/2099 to purchase tickets.