Pictured above: Jack Schultz in “I’m Falling in Love All The Time”/Photo: Morgan Sosic and Graphic Design by Cody Lucas
Lights shine on Jack Schultz surrounded by a varied assortment of props. A coffee grinder, a water boiler and an old school projector with slides stand out among the items that surrounds the actor and playwright of “I’m Falling in Love All the Time.” The minimalist set takes the audience back to Schultz’s past: he is 15, maybe 16 years old, carrying the energy and feeling of the universal teenage, coming-of-age experience.
We caught up with Schultz to learn about his upcoming solo show,”I’m Falling in Love All of the Time,” which is running as part of The Agency Theater Collective’s Basement Series.
Caffeine addiction is rarely talked about so I’m curious what it was like having to deal with that. What is life like with an addiction that is so commonly overlooked in a city where there’s a coffee shop every few feet?
Schultz: Well, I think people talk about being addicted to coffee all the time. It’s a badge of honor that speaks to someone’s productivity. We honor those types of addictions. Workaholics get ahead. People addicted to coffee are people that get up early, work all day, make a lot of money. It’s why we see “but first, coffee” printed all over t-shirts, coffee mugs, and on chalkboards outside of cafes. It’s addictions that are killing people every day that we’re really afraid to talk about because they’ve been deep fried in a hardshell of stigma.
What is a cool fact that you learned about the pleasure chemical while working on this show?
Schultz: When going through a breakup, we are literally going through withdrawals from the dopamine that ex used to provide. Losing love actually hurts.
Why this play at this time?
Schultz: Our country is in the midst of a huge opioid crisis right now. In 2017, opioid overdoses killed more people in the US than guns or breast cancer. We need to start talking more about it.
Why do you think the media overlooks the opioid problem? Do you think it’s on purpose? Or do you think it’s just not a high priority?
Schultz: Well the opioid crisis, as of late, has been getting some mainstream media attention. Trump’s administration has made some steps towards confronting the reality of the issue but, of course, very little actual work has been done to curb the flow of hundreds of people dying everyday. Addiction isn’t an easy topic to talk about because we all have a lot of baggage surrounding it. We’ve all been fed ideas of what addiction is. It’s your “drunk uncle” the family is embarrassed of. It’s the “homeless crackhead” living by the L asking you for change. It’s the sad celebrity that went off the deep end and “couldn’t handle their fame.” These tropes and stereotypes, like any other, cloud our perspective towards a nuanced, systemic issue that we all need to take more time to sort through for ourselves. What is addiction? How does it affect your life?
Solo shows are hard to write. Why did you choose this format for “I’m Falling In Love All The Time”?
Schultz: Solo performance has been a cheap, accessible way to work on my craft as a writer and performer. I started writing solo pieces at The Agency Theater Collective’s No Shame Theater in 2012. I want to see people on stage exploring something they deeply care about with transparency.
What is the one thing you want your audiences to take away from your show?
Schultz: This is one question I just really have a hard time putting into words. But if I had to—I hope people walk away appreciating the love they’ve found in their life.
What was the process of developing “I’m Falling in Love All the Time” through The Agency’s Basement series? What made you want to develop it there?
Schultz: The Agency is my artistic home. The Basement Series has been a space for artists like me to put up things they’re excited about but have maybe never tried before. It was the perfect place for me to put something so personal to me into the world for the first time.
What exactly is The Basement Series?
Schultz: The Basement Series is an evolving monthly event, sometimes bi-monthly, where artists from all over Chicago are invited to put up original works in progress. The inaugural production in 2016 was a one-act, one-man show taking place entirely in a bathtub. Since then, we’ve hosted ten-minute plays, storytellers, improv sets, and dancers.
How often do you work with The Agency?
Schultz: All the time.
What makes them unique from other places you’ve had your work produced?
Schultz: I’ve found my artistic family there. I started working with the Agency because I took acting classes at Green Shirt Studio. Green Shirt co-founders Andrew Gallant and Sommer Austin, Artistic Director and Managing Director of the Agency respectively, create the same open, collaborative environment in rehearsals as they do in their classrooms. They’re both really good teachers and great people.
Do you think Chicago is better about encouraging DIY theater and performance artists than other places? Why or why not?
Schultz: I haven’t spent too much time in other markets—but I do think DIY Chicago theater has an advantage over others since it can be so cheap to produce theater here. There are also so many theater artists in Chicago ready to work. Those two factors combined foster a ton of DIY art.
What’s your next project?
Schultz: This summer I’ll be co-directing Cody Lucas’s play “Tres Bandidos” for The Agency Theater Collective with Cordie Nelson. Details on that still to come.
“I’m Falling in Love All the Time” performances occur Friday through Saturday at Pendulum Space, 1803 West Byron Street, Suite 216, through March 31. More information can be found through wearetheagency.org.