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I Hate It Here

“I hate it here:” four simple words, the title of a brand-new audio play, and a surprisingly profound way to wrap up the experiences of 2020. I Hate It Here: Stories from the End of the Old World, written and directed by Ike Holter, launches breathlessly as the ensemble cast throws out those four words, a few expletives and the phrase “this has been the worst year.” Studio Theatre commissioned I Hate It Here from Holter, a playwright from Chicago whose work continues to gain prominence on the national stage. In five months, Holter delivered the play, the second audio work for Studio Theatre and an incredibly timely reflection on the emotional journey of 2020. Ensemble members Sydney Charles, Behzad Dabu, Kirsten Fitzgerald, Jennifer Mendenhall, Gabriel Ruiz, Tony Santiago and Jaysen Wright recorded what is essentially an “album” or “kaleidoscope” of stories from their own homes. Bouncing from a taxicab to a wedding to a bedroom and making explicit reference to COVID-19, the national uprising for racial justice, and the presidential election, I Hate It Here chronicles the events of the year while exploring their emotional toll. From just the first few moments, listeners will appreciate the rapid-fire narrative and the high-quality production. The show may not come with the visual elements so familiar in theater, but stellar sound design more than makes up for it, offering an innovative theatrical treat. Dramaturg Adrien-Alice Hansel puts it best: I Hate It Here “offers seeds for a different beginning” as an old world ends. The audio play is available through March 7 at www.studiotheatre.org. Free.