The upcoming university production “I & You” will explore the journey of two individuals as they discover the beauty of human connection.

Michael Bodie, filmmaker and professor at the University of California’s School of Cinematic Arts, directs “I & You” and said the play explores human connectivity through Walt Whitman’s poetry collection “Leaves of Grass,” which is central to the bonding of the two main characters.

“It’s using the poem as a lens through which to explore the trials and turbulences of their lives,” said Bodie.

“I & You” celebrates youth and romance while tackling heavy themes of life and death as a pair of poetry project partners evolve from being strangers to reaching a level of connection that neither of them had anticipated.

Unlike most theatrical productions, “I & You” features a two-person cast.

Omar Busailah, a fourth-year theatre student, and Ani Villarreal, a second-year theatre student, play Anthony and ill-stricken Caroline, two students who are assigned to work on a poetry project about Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.”

Busailah said it is nerve wracking to be a part of a two-person cast since the play focuses entirely on the two characters.

Because of that though, he acknowledges the greater importance of maintaining a connection to their characters and to each other.

“It’s all about being honest with our characters and being honest with what we’re saying in the moment because that’s how we make sure we stay connected and tell the story to the best of its ability,” he said.

Like Busailah, Villarreal feels that it’s stressful being part of a two-person cast, but she also appreciates the ease of which she is able to develop her character with Busailah, since the play consists of just the two of them.

“I thought it would’ve been harder with a two-person show, but [it’s] actually kind of freeing,” she said.

Villarreal encourages all to come see the play.

“It’s a production about real teenagers talking about heavy things and normalizing things in society that we all have to talk about, like death and life,” she said.

“I & You” will run at the University Theatre at 8 p.m. on April 20, 21, 22, 28 and 29. A matinee will run at 2 p.m. on April 30.

Tickets are available online at the Department of Theatre and New Dance’s webpage.

They cost $10 for Cal Poly Pomona students and $15 for general admission.

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