By Jill Palmer
Starting Feb. 16, the Suzanne von Liebig Theatre will be hosting SciFi: An Epic Devised Theatrical Experiment with Music, produced by Theatre Arts professor Neal Utterback. This play is inspired by the summer reading novel Station Eleven and put together entirely by student volunteers. The show will be appearing at 8:00pm Feb. 16-18 and 23-25. Tickets are free for Juniata students, and general admission costs $20.
The cast of SciFi is comprised completely of students. There was no script and no audition process. Everyone who was interested in being involved was welcomed. Utterback served as both producer and facilitator for the project.
“Everyone did a little of everything: writing, directing, acting, etc.,” Utterback said. “We had faculty guests come and talk to us about different aspects of the novel, and I gave the students assignments based on our discussions. Then, with a student director and stage manager, the cast put the entire show together themselves.”
The student cast worked to put the production together in just a mere five weeks. Utterback said, “Often these kinds of processes will take months or even years. I was especially proud and excited by what these students and my colleague, Leigh Hendrix (who is also in the cast) were able to create.”
The students devoted many hours of their time to the production and are extremely proud of what they have created.
For those who read Station Eleven, be assured that SciFi is indeed an original story. Aiden Borgardt, a member of the cast of SciFi, said, “SciFi is inspired by Station Eleven, but we have pulled text from other sources as well. The audience can expect to be surprised.”
In Station Eleven, a sickness spreads across the country and wipes out most of humanity. The novel follows six characters’ journeys before and after the end of the world.
One of the major themes of Station Eleven is the idea that humans need each other to endure such disaster. Juniata’s Sci-Fi, in turn, will be following similar themes.
Utterback said, “The major idea we are pursuing is that, while one might be able to survive the end of the world, one certainly wouldn’t be able to do it alone. We need each other. We need community and connection.” The desire for interpersonal relationships in the face of adversity is one that many people can relate to.
You can buy tickets and learn more here!