Author Kate Wilhelm is in town, and will be appearing at the Central Library this Friday, June 29 on her way to the opening night of a new play based on her work, produced byThe Infinty Box Theatre Project. Artistic Director David Mills tells us about it:
What happens when what you watch becomes what you live? Kate Wilhelm explores this question in her short story, “Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis!” First published in Orbit 18 in 1976, it is the story of Lottie and Butcher, who spend an entire weekend immersed in the reality TV show, This Is Your Crisis! As Kate explains it, the story is her response to the hypnotic effect of game shows and the “transformative experience” they produced.
Infinity Box Theatre Project is presenting a world premiere stage adaptation of “Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis!” at the Ethnic Cultural Theater and Kate is in Seattle for opening night, Friday, June 29th.
Infinity Box Theatre Project describes itself as “a research institute in the form of a theater.” We use plays as a way of asking questions as we explore the nature of science and technology and their effects on our lives. The idea of a story about reality TV written in the 1970s is intriguing enough, given the explosion of such shows in recent years. But this little story is ahead of its time even now in its deceptively simple exploration of how such programs can insinuate themselves into our lives. It is a wonderfully typical Wilhelm story. What begins as a simple story of ordinary life turns out to be about something much deeper. It is recognized as a classic short story and has been republished twice recently in 2007 in Dangerous Games (edited by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann) and again in 2009 in The Secret History of Science Fiction (edited by John Kessel and James P. Kelly)
Putting “Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis!” on stage has been a challenge for Catherine Kettrick, playwright and director – not least because she had to write the entire audio of the “This Is Your Crisis!” reality TV show. Twelve actors recorded contestant interviews, ads, emcee remarks on the contestant’s progress and commentary from the show’s psychologist and physician. Dustin Morache, our Sound Designer, used those recordings, as well as original music by Andrew J. Perez, to design the audio that plays non-stop throughout the play as we watch how Lottie and Butcher become more and more involved in the reality of the contestants’ crises.
We see our production as a compelling piece of theater, but also as a (deceptively simple) stimulus for an audience conversation about the nature of media and its effects on our own daily lives.
Another reason we are pleased to be presenting one of Kate’s stories is that our name, Infinity Box, is taken in part from the title story of one of her short story collections, The Infinity Box.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis!” runs June 29th – July 8th at the Ethnic Cultural Theater. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets, 800-838-3006. More information on Infinity Box Theatre Project at http://infinitybox.org