Indie Artists on New Plays #108 Sarah M. Chichester looks at The Perpetual Earth Program part of Planet Connections Festivity
It’s not a particularly common thing to see science or science fiction in theatre. I can only think of a small handful of plays that fits into this slowly growing theatrical genre. So I was particularly looking forward to seeing The Perpetual Earth Program.
Written & directed by Scott Kesselman, this show is about two aliens (who changed their appearance to look like humans) who are tour guides that guide earth humans through the universe to view a planet and creatures that are closest to earth in resemblance. While on the tour, we learn about various aspects of space, time, and the physics of human reality.
The script, which is based on the book Our Mathematical Universe by Max Tegmark (an MIT physics professor), uniquely explores different things that humans can and can’t experience. Going through a number of different ideas and concepts, the dialogue is quite complex. While being well written, it might take an audience member some extra time to think about and process since the script doesn’t simplify the physics being discussed.
The overall production is quite enjoyable. The tour guides, portrayed by Janelle Zapata and Jazmyn Arroyo were exceptional. I applaud both their ability to develop and portray intriguing and strong characters, and their ability to perform such a complicated script so exquisitely. From the interactive nature of the script, it also allowed Zapata and Arroyo to react to unexpected changes within the audience, such as audience members arriving late (after the tour began), and even a chair randomly falling down; which they improvised then went back to the tour quite well. The rest of the cast includes Eric Campos, Jessica Santos, and Cory Herbert- all of whom played the aliens on the visiting planet. While having few lines and lots of physical movement, they simplistically and elegantly portrayed aliens with stunning choreography.
I also enjoyed Kesselman’s staging, the make up and costumes of the aliens, and the projections- that were displayed on two large Styrofoam squares with round cravings out from the middle so we could see the projections in the same way that the aliens view their planet. It was quite an interesting and enjoyable production, which made me leave thinking about a lot of new things (and the few things that I didn’t quite grasp to research when I got home).