Imagine if David Foster Wallace had teamed up with Isaac Asimov or if we were somehow able to create a hybrid of The Princess Bride and Star Trek: The Next Generation (one of the episodes with that guy who wore a silver banana clip as glasses). Come on, you know you’d want to see that.
How to Live Safely in a Science-Fictional Universe is a witty, uproarious story of human weakness and longing, a marriage of heart, intelligence ... and time travel. The main character, "Charles," is a lonely, disaffected time machine repairman living in a bubble outside all realities, working solitarily and searching across time for the one figure he thinks might save him: his father. In this universe where people can live in the realities of their choosing, from Star Wars to the happiest ten minutes of one's life, real human contact is all too rare and Charles' regret drives him to desperation. With a protagonist who shares the same name as the author and a high dose of science fiction elements like alternate realities and time-jumping, Yu's work recalls Douglas Adams' hit novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and should appeal to anyone with a fondness for Wookies.
This adaptation will test our formal innovation skills as it translates fiction to the stage. The production must tackle the challenge of portraying time travel, projecting memories and, in this one-person show, surrounding Charles with the other characters who populate his tiny world. This is theatre at its best: all the wires show, and the magic of live performance is even stronger.
In addition, this production will be part of our successful Pay What You Want program, recipient of a special citation from the Central Ohio Theatre Critics Circle. In its continued efforts to break down practical barriers between theatre-goers and the theater itself, we encourages attendance by low-income populations (which, crucially, includes youth and students) with this program.
How to Live Safely in a Science-Fictional Universe builds on the successful example of Skyscrapers of the Midwest, an original adaptation of a graphic novel which ran this past spring. Now Artistic Director Matt Slaybaugh collaborates with Jennifer Fawcett, winner of the 2008 National Science Playwriting Award from the Kennedy Center, and a 2010 Creation Fund Award from the National Performance Network Challenges. The duo have consulted with Charles Yu, and the author will continue to be involved in the adaptation, will read the script and visit with company members. Available Light will be the first theatre company to adapt this particular work, and one of the few theatres in the country to adapt a science-fiction novel to the stage.
How to Live Safely in a Science-Fictional Universe will be adapted by Matt Slaybaugh and Jennifer Fawcett. Slaybaugh's writing and directing of new plays and original works for Available Light Theatre and the BlueForms Theatre Group has been lauded by American Theatre magazine, New York Press, NYtheatre dot com, the Central Ohio Theatre Critics Circle, the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, and the Victoria BC Times Colonist. Slaybaugh has traveled to direct at such places as InterAct in Philadelphia, Baltimore Centerstage, John Jay College in New York City, and the Kennedy Center ACT Festival.
Jennifer Fawcett's work has been produced and presented at more than twenty theatres and theatre festivals in the United States and Canada including the Kennedy Center, the Lark Playwrights’ Week (NYC), Halcyon Theatre's Alcyone Festival (Chicago), SummerWorks Theatre Festival (Toronto), The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (Boston), Curious Theatre Company (Denver), and Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey.
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