The Future Is Being Staged – Updates and Food For Thought

So, apologies for the delay in posting – April for me has been the month of Science and performance not once, but twice (at least!) and things have been rather hectic.
Following on from the post I wrote last year about the distinctions between Science and SF Theatre, I developed this into a sufficiently fleshed paper to deliver at Lincoln’s Performing Science conference which finished a day before Stage the Future (which was a conference that I co-organised with Chris Callow Jr. at Royal Holloway, University of London. A conference report will be online very shortly, so I don’t want to go too much into detail about how it went.

However, what I want to share is what I’ve learnt from the conferences personally.

When Chris and I were formulating the idea behind an SF Theatre conference, there was always a fear on my part – who else would be so involved to not only be interested in the idea, but who would actually buy a ticket and come to the event? Who would talk – and what would they talk about? Maybe fear’s a bad word – apprehension may be more appropriate, but it was a nervous sort of excitement as we spread the word around. SF Theatre is my topic for my PhD so it’s safe to say I have some sort of investment in it (emotionally, intellectually and financially), but it’s rather naive to assume that people will feel the same way.

My fears were pleasantly abated – not only did we get interest, we had enough material to take the conference to 2 days. There were performances of new writing, practitioners of Science and SF Theatre, producers, academics, actors and directors. There were talks and performances that gave a nod to the old classics and historical pieces that have been relatively ignored, to the new, original pieces of writing.

However, when we’re all scattered across the globe, promoting a form that is inherently live, in the moment, it’s hard to know what’s going on and how to access it. Jen Gunnels’ Forum for Science Fiction in the Theatre is a great way of continuing the conversation – and this is just the start.

Theatre is continually embracing the widespread arms of online presence; we have had online streams from such theatres as the Royal Court, we have The National Theatre live, that shows British theatre at a range of cinemas. Death and the Powers was simulcast from Dallas Opera. These, of course, are just a few examples.

With these online hooks in place, theatre can do so much more in promoting itself worldwide. We need to bridge this gap and show the world what we’re doing – that this is something that has existed for so long and that it should therefore gain the acknowledgement that it deserves.

I’ve recently started up a new theatre company in London, Stars or Mars, in order to bring in different networks to stage original SF performances – drawing upon different departments of scientific, creative and logical thinking (all not mutually exclusive, of course). We want to continue the conversations that sparked up at the Stage the Future conference – and am hoping to plan one in the near future!

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