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Perils of Computer Coding Spotlit in 'Code Monkey' -Original Play to Premiere at BC's Robsham Theater

written and directed by bc's luke jorgenson, play will open oct. 7

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (October 2009) — “CodeMonkey" - a new musical comedy written and directed by Luke Jorgensen, an adjunct associate professor of theater at Boston College, will premiere at BC's Robsham Theater Arts Center on October 7.

The play’s hero, Tom, is a recent college graduate who has an internship writing computer code at the NOTANEVIL Pharmaceutical Company. He soon begins to suspect something is amiss, and that the company is actually a front for the evil experiments of CEO and mad scientist Dr. Martin.

Questions arise as the plot unfolds: Are Tom's unsuspecting co-workers unknowing subjects for hideous experiments, slowly turning to zombies? Is Dr. Martin working for an evil Alien Overlord? Are the lab monkeys being trained to kill? Can an army of singing and dancing Freemasons save the day? And will our hero Tom find love with attractive lab assistant Laura?

“CodeMonkey” features—for the first time in a theatrical production—the music of Jonathan Coulton. It also is the first play written by Jorgensen to be staged, as well as “the first time an original musical has been staged at BC, let alone one written by a faculty member,” he notes. 

After hearing Coulton’s music last year, Jorgensen—who has previously adapted plays and has other original projects in the works, including an upcoming production at Westford Academy (see below)—was inspired to create a musical that would highlight his songs.
 
“I was taken by the cleverness of the lyrics and the satire of office life and technology. Many of the songs had a through line, so I assumed they might be part of a musical.” He contacted Coulton, who agreed that his works would lend themselves to a musical and gave Jorgensen the go ahead to create a play around them—which meant “working backwards, in a sense,” he says, using preexisting songs to tell a story.

codemonkey Luke Jorgensen (right) reviews the script of “CodeMonkey” with cast member and BC senior Anthony Masero at BC's Robsham Theater Arts Center. (Photo by Suzanne Camarata).

Jorgensen describes the writing process as “some strange and incredibly fun combination of writing, doing a crossword puzzle and a Sudoku while organizing a party. The songs are so funny, and include so many elements of technology, pop culture and random ideas, that writing a play to unite them left no room for writer’s block.” 

He credits the support of BC Theater Department colleagues, since the initial step in getting the play produced was to have a reading, which he says was well-received.

The cast—“excited and committed to the project since the beginning,” according to Jorgensen—includes 16 BC student performers, with half of comprising the singing and dancing chorus. Notably, students also serve as costume and lighting designers, and two students are creating the multimedia portion of the performance.

“Computers, cutting edge software, projections and original films made for the play are all integral in this production,” he says. “We’ve never had so many student designers on a mainstage performance. I think it speaks well to the level of education our students are getting in the many facets of theater production.” Enhanced through creative collaboration among the cast and crew, he says the play reflects a coming together of many groups on campus.

An independent musician, Jonathan Coulton left a job as a computer programmer to compose songs. Between 2005 and 2006 he wrote, recorded and published a new song weekly as a free podcast project, “Thing a Week,” which became an Internet sensation and is now available on CD.

Among his songs which have become Internet hits is "Code Monkey"—a slang term for a computer programmer, and the song from which the play gets its title. Ten of Coulton's songs are featured in the show. “The style of the music changes from song to song, from pop to rock to a country number, but all share hysterical, intelligent lyrics and fun music,” says Jorgensen, who hopes Coulton will attend the production on opening night.

Bringing his play to life on stage “has been an amazing learning experience,” Jorgensen says. “As a director you can always hide behind the playwright, but not this time.”

Jorgensen—who lives in Westford with his family—teaches acting, creative dramatics and introduction to theater at BC, has directed a number of campus productions.

Next semester he will direct another new play he wrote, "Live at the Coconut Grove"—about the famous Boston night club fire of 1942, which he says “has gangsters, music from the 40's and is darker in content”—at Westford Academy. Jorgensen also has written a one-act play and is in negotiation for publication of a youth novel.

“CodeMonkey” kicks off the fall season at BC’s Robsham Theater Arts Center and will be performed Oct. 7-10 at 7:30 p.m., and on Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. More information here; tickets are available for purchase via the box office, at 617-552-4002.

To arrange an interview with Jorgensen, please contact him directly at jorgense@bc.edu

For more information, contact Rosanne Pellegrini at the Boston College Office of News & Public Affairs: rosanne.pellegrini.1@bc.edu

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