Mr. Burns, a post-electric play is a show that asks “If all the lights were to go out tomorrow, what would we remember? What about seven years from now? What about seventy-five?” Set directly after a nuclear apocalypse, Mr. Burns answers these questions over three acts. These acts get progressively more heightened in tone until we are transported from a gritty, realistic portrait of survival to a grotesque new form of opera the likes of which we have never seen.
Lighting this show comes with an obvious challenge: how does one light a show in which there is no electricity? The first step was in throwing that information out and establishing a believable nighttime look in Act One so that the inevitable departure from naturalism was shocking to the audience. Act Two begins breaking down any illusions of realism established in Act One as we begin to observe the characters’ ability to alter their surroundings through their performance’s palpable desperation to escape their situation. Act Three completes this transformation and takes us into the world of true musical theatre: a world in which the characters’ emotions and actions have a direct effect on the lighting environment.
As the most complex show I have ever encountered, Mr. Burns also served as my most educational collaboration process as well. A shared vocabulary among the team was essential. We all learned that in creating a very bizarre world onstage, we have to create rules (even if the goal is to break them).
Mr. Burns, a post-electric play
E.C. Mabie Theatre
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