Written by Anne Washburn
Directed by Christine Nicholson
A Post-Electric Play.
it’s a three-act play reckoning with the shape of the stories that make us human, give us faith, and create gods and monsters that we can comprehend and thus perhaps fight.
Live Streamed Performances: Thursday, Fridays & Saturdays, Oct. 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, & 16 at 7:30 pm; Sundays Oct. 10 & 17 at 2:00 pm
Tickets on sale until 15 minutes before curtain to allow for links to be sent out.
Shortly after an unspecified apocalyptic event, a group of survivors gather together and begin to attempt to recount the episode "Cape Feare" of the television show The Simpsons. The second act picks up with the same group seven years later, who have now formed a theatrical troupe that specializes in performing Simpsons episodes, with commercials and all. The final act is set an additional 75 years in the future. The same episode of The Simpsons, now a familiar myth, has been reworked into a musical pageant, with the story, characters, and morals repurposed to fit the artistic and dramatic needs of a culture still reeling from destruction of civilization and the near-extinction of humanity decades earlier.
Addendum to notes for revival in October 2021
The Director’s notes below were written for the March 2020 production that was suspended because of the pandemic lockdown. For some of the questions posed below we now have a deeper understanding through our shared experiences the past year.
Original notes from March 2020 production:
What happens next, if the unthinkable happens? What if our electrical grid was to fail? What if it failed not only regionally, but nationally, globally? No phones. No TV. No refrigeration. No heating. No air-conditioning. No electric power at all. Electric cars wont charge. Hospitals wont function. Nuclear power plants will no longer be cooled. What happens then? When the power plants shut down, fail, melt down, explode? Mr. Burns, a Post-electric Play begins several months after the disaster.
In Act One, following the disaster, eighty percent of the population is gone. Communication is cut off, and survivors need to find a way to survive. Only twenty percent of the population is left to pick up the pieces. As you read these notes, look around you - the theatre holds 120 people, 80% is 96. Only 24 people in this audience are left after the devastation. This is where the play starts. What do we, the survivors, do to go on? What connects us? What frightens us? How do we cope with loss? How do we keep our human story alive? We tell our stories. In the world of Mr. Burns, we, the survivors, have returned to Storytelling – for entertainment, for spiritual connection, for remembering, for honoring the past and our dead. We tell our stories to each other to keep our memories and dreams alive.
Act 2 begins Seven years later, and civilization is slowly coming back. People have found ways to survive. Certain commodities now have monetary value, people connect with each other and build relationships, and our need to continue to tell our collective stories has developed into a new form: traveling troupes of actors who help us remember our past, reflect our present, and helps us imagine our future. Like the itinerant acting troupes of the Middle Ages or Comedy troupes during the Renaissance, traveling groups of actors are now going from town to town performing remembered TV shows, movies, Shakespeare, Commercials. Life is still uncertain. There is no centralized government. There is a “wild west” feel to life. People are still armed. But our shared stories are still being told and performed.
Act 3 begins Seventy-five Years Later. Everyone we know has lived out their lives. Everyone who experienced the great disaster is gone. People now remember their past through the stories told by their predecessors. The Global Disaster and the Simpsons are combined into ritual, the story has been mythologized, and like ancient Greek tragedy, theatre, as we now know it, has been reborn as a conduit for our shared experience and spiritual awakening. The stories blur and are reformed into something new. Something meaningful. Something transformative and profound. We remember. We survive. We grow.
-Christine Nicholson, Director
KCACTF Festival 54
This production has been entered into the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. To this end, this production is eligible for a response by a regional KCACTF representative and selected students and faculty are invited to participate in KCACTF programs involving scholarships, internships, grants and awards for actors, directon, dramaturgs, playwrights, designers, stage manager and critics at both the regional and national levels. Production entered on the Participating level are eligible for invitation into the KCACTF regional festival and may also be considered for national awards recognizing outstanding achievement in production, design, direction and performance.