Theater Artists Olympia (TAO) will present an evening of science fiction in the Midnight Sun Performance Space. This event marks the sixth installment in the ongoing series Words, Words, Words, a sardonic quotation from Hamlet.
Full disclosure: This collection of sci-fi classics was curated by OLY ARTS‘ managing editor, Christian Carvajal, himself a published author of science fiction (Lightfall, 2009). The featured readers are nine actors familiar to audiences all over the South Sound.
“We’re starting with science fact,” Carvajal noted, “specifically a quote from Carl Sagan. I was hugely influenced by Sagan’s Cosmos when it aired in 1980, so I dedicated my master’s thesis to Sagan and George Lucas. I guess I have pretty serious geek cred.”
Once the evening sets its course toward the second star to the right, its interstellar voyagers will skip through the modern history of science fiction. The Martian marauders of H. G. Wells give way to the so-called “Golden Age” of science fiction, which began in the late 1930s with the first publication of a story by Isaac Asimov. Christopher Rocco, lead actor in TAO’s spring production of The Credeaux Canvas, will read from the work of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Ray Bradbury, the short story writer hailed as the “Master of Miracles,” will be performed by Rick Pearlstein, whose last appearance in The Midnight Sun was for TAO’s production of Tartuffe.
“By the end of Act One,” Carvajal said, “we’ll have reached the period when a human first set foot on the moon. After that, sci-fi grew much more interested in how human beings get along with each other. The science in these stories added realistic psychology, even sexuality, to the hard math and science of the pulp era. It became much more common to see female or openly gay writers’ work on the stands. We’ll read from several of those authors, as I think it’s important to highlight the welcome diversity in our genre’s social and literary community.
“You’ll recognize pieces in our program,” Carvajal continued, “even if you’re not a lifelong reader of science fiction. But I am a fan, as are most of our actors, so we’re adding short pieces from less-familiar authors whom we love and admire. Our goal is to skip through the history of science fiction in the first hour, then use the second to get listeners excited about where the future of the future is headed. I believe we can all use a dose of optimism this election season.”
What: Words, Words, Words: Science Fiction
Where: The Midnight Sun Performance Space,
113 Columbia St. N, Olympia
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10
How much: $10 suggested donation
Learn more: 360-561-9590 / olytheater.com