October 15, 2019

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Go back to the future with Tomorrow's Child

Audience participates in 'one-of-a-kind sightless theatre experience'

David Van Belle</p><p>Matt Waddell and Eric Rose, in their on-stage personas, worked to adapt Ray Bradbury's classic for the stage.</p>

David Van Belle

Matt Waddell and Eric Rose, in their on-stage personas, worked to adapt Ray Bradbury's classic for the stage.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/10/2017 (721 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Theatre doesn’t ask much of its audience members, save that they purchase tickets and show up.

You’ll be requested to do a little more if you choose to go to the West End Cultural Centre, however, to experience an adaptation of a Ray Bradbury short story produced by Calgary’s Ghost River Theatre.

Just don’t tell anyone you’re off to “see a play.” In fact, before the narrative ball gets rolling, each audience member will be blindfolded for what the company is touting as a “one-of-a-kind sightless theatre experience.”

Eric Rose, of Ghost River Theatre, adapted Ray Bradbury’s story of the same name with Matthew Waddell and David van Belle. The primary attraction of that particular story is its “retro-futurism,” Rose said.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/10/2017 (721 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Theatre doesn’t ask much of its audience members, save that they purchase tickets and show up.

You’ll be requested to do a little more if you choose to go to the West End Cultural Centre, however, to experience an adaptation of a Ray Bradbury short story produced by Calgary’s Ghost River Theatre.

Just don’t tell anyone you’re off to "see a play." In fact, before the narrative ball gets rolling, each audience member will be blindfolded for what the company is touting as a "one-of-a-kind sightless theatre experience."

Eric Rose, of Ghost River Theatre, adapted Ray Bradbury’s story of the same name with Matthew Waddell and David van Belle. The primary attraction of that particular story is its "retro-futurism," Rose said.

"It was actually a very conscious choice. The reason we chose Tomorrow’s Child is that Bradbury was writing in the late 1940s about a futuristic 1989."

A certain ironic charm attends any speculative work, not always for how much it gets right but also for how much it gets wrong. For example, if Blade Runner had been right about the year 2019, we would be seeing flying cars come into use any time now. So it was in Bradbury’s time.

In Tomorrow’s Child, "Peter and Polly Horn are a couple that are about to give birth to their first child in 1989," Rose said. "People take helicopters to work or the hospital and when you arrive at the hospital, you give birth in a machine called a ‘birthing mech."

"In the story, the birthing mech malfunctions and the baby is born into the fourth dimension," Rose said. "It appears to them and to everybody else as a blue pyramid."

Rose said the story provides a glimpse into the past as much as a speculative future.

"I find that fascinating," Rose said. "We’re past the future (Bradbury) predicted and we’re actually looking back."

"It all has more to do with the time period in which it was written than it has to predicting the future."

Still, the story lent itself to a unique, audio-only experience, Rose said, because the artists behind the project have an opportunity to create a mind-melting audio landscape "because it’s full of mechanized sound."

"Everything in this world makes and generates its own noise property and we saw that as a fascinating power," Rose said.

"The science-fiction aspect proposes a very imaginative, somewhat impossible context for us to create a variety of different kind of sound experiences within a narrative context."

Yet the experience promises something beyond the parameters of, say, a radio play, Rose said.

"A radio play (features) a narrative that has characters and it has very strict rules on how you introduce characters, the way that you establish the environment and the context, et cetera."

Rose said this production goes beyond, literally, pitched as much to audiophiles as sci-fi enthusiasts, given "an exceptional, immersive audio experience," suggestive of, say, an audio trip into the fourth dimension.

"There’s these moments that are about this incredible deep listening," Rose said. "It can be transcendent, if people can go deeply into themselves via the symphonic world of sound."

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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