Theatre 370 is performing the sci-fi black box production, “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play” at Holliston High School May 4th, 5th, and 6th.
The play takes place in a post apocalyptic setting where there is no electricity and the focus is directed on a group of characters who bond over the Simpsons episode “Cape Fear.” The play spans over 80 years in three acts.
Senior Kyra Allen, who plays Colleen, explains, “The first act is when the apocalypse actually happened. The second act is 7 years later and [the characters have created] a theatre company that is trying to perform the [Simpsons] episode so that people can come see it and feel nostalgic. The third act is 75 years in the future and everyone who has seen the Simpsons is gone or dead and the actors that are putting it on stage have never seen the Simpsons and everything has been lost in translation. It’s this weird interpretation of what happened.”
The actors admitted the premise seemed strange, even funny at first, but “[Even though] it’s definitely one of the weirdest plays [they’ve] done, [that’s] what makes it so great,” said Allen.
This play was not chosen at random.
Theater 370 director, Courtney Bottomley said, “It’s actually a play that I wanted to see when I was living in New York, and I couldn’t get tickets to because it was constantly sold out. It was something that would be relevant to high school kids, learning about a futuristic world and what consequences our choices create.”
The play’s proximity that spiked the interest of the director. Holliston, being a fairly small town, is rarely noticed. One of the characters in the show, known as Gibson, is from Framingham who brings up Holliston as a reference point.
“They say Holliston in the script, and I know people will think we made that up, but it’s actually in the text,” said Allen.
The same thing that makes the play “weird” makes it just as difficult.
“It’s one of the most complicated,” said Allen. “ There’s a lot you need to figure out about the plot since it never really says how the apocalypse really happened.”
The play is full of material up for interpretation. It contains a lot of text and details for each individual character that is important and hard to understand. Each passage takes a great amount of time to analyze.
“It’s making sure all the actors understand all those [details] because small one line things come back in a much bigger way in act three. A lot of our process is making sure all those little things actually have weight,” Bottomley said.
The play will be done as a black box production, meaning it will be held in a much tighter space on stage instead of the whole auditorium. This setup creates a more intimate setting that enables better sound quality.
This is an advantage because of the “countless amount of acoustic dead spots in the auditorium,” according to senior Harriet Koblenzer, a member of the tech crew.
However, a more intimate setting doesn’t mean an easier one.
“There’s a removed challenge of projection, but you have to be more real as an actor; you have to make sure that your character is real which is a hard thing to do,” said Allen.
Both the actors and tech crew agree that “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play” is no easy task. Regardless, they approach the challenge with positivity and confidence.
Allen said, “I’m really glad that this is my last play going out as a senior… That I get to take on something so complicated and new for all of us.”