Alexander Lehman, 26 January 2014

People Present

Chloe Mashiter

Cahterine Fowles

Bridgett Horley

Rowan Williams-Fletcher

Alex Rasleave

Dan Phillips


Kate O'Connor



Kat Heath

Daniel Holton

Michael John Harding

Artists & Productions discussed:

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Ken Campbell - The Warp, Illuminatus! Trilogy

staging of episodes of The Twilight Zone

Spider-Man Turn Out the Dark

Lord of the Rings

Punchdrunk Dr. Who show (Crash of the Elysium)


Secret Cinema - Prometheus

Crash (promenade performance of an impact site)

Wooster Group mash-up of classic opera ‘Aeneas Returning from the War’ with

projected B-sci fi film ‘La Didone’

Daisy Campbell - Cosmic Trigger

Little Shop of Horrors

AC/DC by Heathcote Williams

an immersive production of Ghostbusters


Science Fiction is enjoying a heyday at the moment, which is both great, because it

means there is an audience, and challenging, because public perception of sf is so

dominated by special effects.

This familiarity with film sf could make a theatrical sf show even more exciting,

because of the enjoyment of seeing something impossible brought to life. - alien

puppetry, for instance

One participant adapted a Philip K. Dick story about 6 people being burned alive into

an object performance where the people were portrayed by matches.

There were a multitude of views on whether or how to portray technology and space

on stage. Lots of suggestions for use of projection, scale models, puppetry, etc. to

create atmospheres and space-scapes.

We discussed both how difficult, and how easy, it would be to portray science fiction

worlds. We both do not have the benefit of after-effects and sound stages, but do have

the powerful tool of asking the audience to “play pretend” that we are in space - the

same way we ask them to pretend we are in Elsinore.

Star Wars begins with three simple paragraphs of text that give you all the context you

need to understand the universe of the film. With the right preparation the audience

will accept anything, but it is important to find the right way to invite them on the


Once the rules have been explained, it is important in sf to know the right place for the

“info dump” portion of the set-up to drop away - where we know enough about the

specialness of the concept that we can focus on the story. Too much table-setting, too

much unnecessary back story and detail, wind up detracting.

Great science fiction works on multiple levels and that great science fiction theatre

would do the same. That at the end of the day the joy comes from seeing life through

a novel or forward-looking lens and being taken to another world or time or

perspective. These goals are infinitely possible on stage.

One attendee brought up the tv series Orphan Black as a concept that could not

possibly work on stage, and then challenged us to consider the contrary - what could

we do that could only happen on stage?

Some discussion of science fiction conventions as potential venues for science fiction

performance. The thankfulness of science fiction fans who see sf done well on stage.

Also cosplayers as a potential source of costume / set / prop makers.

One attendee discussed a recent R&D project where his company are exploring the

possible fallout from the Edward Snowden / NSA revelations - a future where tracking

and surveillance are used to cull the population and control society. They have been

exploring an aesthetic that involves a lot of darkness and a number of torches - a torch

as hand-print scanner for instance.

Brief touch upon big flops like Spider-Man and Lord of the Rings and whether such

projects will inherently fail or if they failed because they were over-invested

commercial ventures trying to cash in on successful film franchises.

Sound and music are powerful tools for affecting audience, creating perception that we

are in another world or another dimension.

Multiple suggestions to stage / examples of staging sf as a radio play. Live foley work

on stage can be theatrical in and of itself.

In the end it was great to see so much interest and to discuss so many different ways

of science fiction being on stage - from the small and poetic to the blow-out



science fiction, immersive theatre

Comments: 2

Aliki Chapple, 27 January 2014

I forgot to say, do you know about this?

I'm the one who was talking about matchsticks and about Daisy Campbell's Cosmic Trigger project. Email me for more

about both, if you're interested : )

Wendy Thomson, 28 January 2014

Check out @WirelessTheatre latest Sci-Fi live recording (audio on stage)