Stars or Mars!

Another delay – so it goes!logo

Some stuff has happened since my last post:

Stars or Mars, my new theatre company on SF Theatre, is now up and running at http://www.starsormarstheatre.co.uk! I really should buy a domain for this site, I think… if you go on the site, you can see updates for Terra Firma and collaborations between futurists and artists, which I’m in the midst of organising now actually! Email me at starsormarstheatre@gmail.com if you’d like to get involved!

 

Also:

I reviewed the Headlong Theatre production of 1984 at Amazing Stories, which you can find here – thrilling, dark, unsettling and timeless!

Stage the Future, myself, and Science Fiction Theatre at large also got a mention in the SciFi London Blog: http://www.sci-fi-london.com/blog/2014/05/brave-new-world-science-fiction-theatre-or-beam-me-la-right-now-scotty!

If you want to see me in the flesh – I’m going to the CRSF (which is actually tomorrow, oops!) in Liverpool – giving a talk on SF Theatre and Worldbuilding. If you’re in the area, do drop by – I’d love to meet you!

Susan

Advertisements

Non Fiction Friday – Stage the Future!

Image

For those who don’t know, I’m doing my PhD on Science Fiction and Theatre. When I mention it, I get one of 2 responses. One is often “Oh… I see. Are you going to write an SF novel?” to “Oh my gosh! Fantastic! I’ve always wanted to see SF in theatres!”. I have received more of the latter (although I am going to write an SF novel, but primarily my interest is on the theatrical side), and so am very privileged to be celebrating the combination of the two with Christos Callow Jr. for our conference Stage the Future.

There has been little written on the subject, it has to be said. We have Science Fiction and the Theatre by Ralph Willingham, although with some good mentions of cognitive estrangement, has an apologetic tone and casts certain stereotypes over SF and subsequently, its staging. We also have Staging the Impossible, which does set out to mention the possibilities of staging SF, but in its wake cataloguing a list of defeats. I will be reviewing the two in earnest, do not worry! However, there is a line in the latter that speaks to me(originally from Julius Kargalitski’s essay The Fantastic in Cinema and Theatre):

Consequently, for Kagarlitski, cinema is “an ideal instrument of the fantastic” (11), for it  “excludes any possibility of interference”–in effect offering viewers the sense that “what has been put on film, has, as it were, already happened” (11).

Kagarlitski implies that it is difficult for a theatrical production to “project” such a sense of historicity and thus validate the content of drama. Given this viewpoint, audiences expect less from a production of science fiction in a theater.(Murphy, 198)

There’s something very misleading in this. He mentions in the article that theatre is a conditional art, generating power from the present moment (p10/11). In our “Information Age”, are we not in fact living this SFnal life now? Donna Harraway described us of being Cyborgs in her Manifesto in 1985. We have our information, our footprint, our history in the cloud as it were, our younger generations have their baby photos as purely digital. We are all connected via a grid that, whilst enabling accessibility, erodes our privacy and interaction with the wholly physical world. We are 3D printing human organs, for crying out loud! Is SF then not about exploring our conditional present? Exactly what was being said to dissuade us from staging it in the first place?

Whether you agree or disagree with me, we would love to hear your takes on the subject. Proposals for papers and performance (we couldn’t do one without the other) are welcome with the deadline being Feb 2014. The conference will be held at RHUL, University of London on the 26th April 2014 with our excellent keynote speakers Jen Gunnels and Nick Lowe. You can see our CFP here.

Our Facebook page

Our Twitter Page

We look forward to seeing you there!

Just a little placeholder…

It’s almost been two weeks since I’ve updated, I realise!

Last week, I was at a conference where I delivered my first ever paper – Whose topia is it anyway? at the conference of Adam Roberts’ works at Lincoln. It was a great experience and a lovely opportunity for me to see the city and university – unfortunately I couldn’t stay longer – and as I’ve said before, first times are often where benchmarks are set. I’m glad I’ve emerged from it raring to go, especially as I have another conference coming up on Saturday! When I have more time, I’ll do a longer review on this.

Writing wise – I’ve been doing some more monologue work. I’m trying to do something with mixed media and am hoping to get some filmed eventually. There’s a nice space between SciFi short story and the monologue that I hope to navigate. The House AI play that I’m doing has been on a little hiatus – but I’ve gotten the conversation down. I do need some guinea pigs to see how effective it is. The thing is, that quantum realities are going to be carried out in the house as the AI is hacked (yes, I do realise how hard this is going to be to stage – I’ve been racking my brains out like MAD over this). Suggestions and answers are welcome!

But what I’m focusing on mostly is this paper coming up, then I’m getting back on with the work for my upgrade!

I also have an announcement, one that I will elaborate on when I have more time, but at the conference, the amazing Christos Callow from Lincoln announced that he and I have been planning to hold a convention on Science Fiction Theatre –  the first of its kind next year! All very exciting! 

Any Updates?

There are some, yes! Not many though –

One of my short plays, En Passant (which I hope you don’t mind what sounds like a double whammy of pretension – a french term and a reference to a chess move, but it sounds good and is relevant to the plot, promise) will be in production soon, alongside 2 other new writing pieces. I’m thrilled to bits and can’t wait to see how it gets on! I will update you!

I also have some other writing plans – one of which is to revamp one of my old novellas (what, I do write prose too!)  and maybe another one, time permitting. Some of you may even be familiar with one of them (if you know them both, you know me too well! Just saying).

I’m going to a Donna Haraway (whom I mentioned in an earlier post about cyborgs burning bras, I recall) lecture tomorrow at the Cosmopolitan Animals conference – can’t wait for this! I will give you all the details as and when.

Another thing – CFPs (Call for Papers). I’m so excited about these, thinking about what I could present and researching odd ends here and there. If (fingers crossed) I get accepted, I will let you know when and where if erm… you want to see this skitty kitty out of her virtual basket.

Toodle pip for now!

80 years on and it’s still a Brave New World

Baby, it’s [still] cold outside!

On Friday, I made my virginal trip to the Senate House in Gower Street for the BNW conference, dealing with its legacy 80 or so years after its publication. I was very fortunate to come across this nugget of information, and as usual, it was an impulsive trip that ended out very well!

The rooms, although grand and ornate and downright gorgeous, however, is not always conducive to the talks as the temperature can fluctuate and the chairs are just a little *too* comfortable, but superficialities aside the talks were all great. Angles from speculative fiction to technocracy and high art to the  autobiographical stories behind Huxley and son (an amazing opportunity to hear such personal accounts) as well as the tropes of mass manufacture, eliminating justification for pleasure and shortening the route between want and reward, to seeing how writing novels in the future can be seen as old fashioned – the “anachronisms” show us just as much about the present as it does for the future, if not more so. Of course, the hedonistic, mass manufactured society with its “Imax/3D” esque “Feelies”, the parallels between Apple and Ford, the visible increase in promiscuity and so on are very much a part of our society now – threads of the real woven in with these little knots that tie the novel back to its actual time. There was something that I pointed out at the seminar having re-read the book after 7 years, that surprised me. Remember the scene where Lenina Crowne decides whether or not she wants to erm, dip her toes in the water in terms of her sexual availability to others?

‘”I’d simply love to come with you for a week in July,” she went on. (Anyhow, she was publicly proving her unfaithfulness to Henry. Fanny ought to be pleased, even though it was Bernard.) “That is,” Lenina gave him her most deliciously significant smile, “if you still want to have me.”‘ (Chapter 4, Brave New World)

What struck me as a misnomer was the word “unfaithful”. In this world, there doesn’t seem to be a context or meta text of faith in that sense. People are encouraged to be promiscuous – monogamy is obsolete and pretty much vaporised from the vocabulary. Bizarre!

It was lovely to see researchers from different universities and get a handle on what everyone is working on. I also happened to have a nice sushi dinner with them in Bloomsbury (because there’s only so much sandwiches can do, although they were lovely) and overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience! Here’s to more!