Arts & Culture

PW parties in space with ‘Song for a Future Generation’

Downspace production shows timeless truths of human nature through out-of-this-world setting

By
Contributing Writer
Friday, October 17, 2014

Some time far in the future, amid a nebulous myriad of mystical galaxies and celestial entities, a space-themed party assembles people invited from all over the universe to view the detonation of a star. The raucous party is hosted by three “sisters,” who are soon revealed to be clones. Among the guests are a shapeshifter, a rock lobster, a prophet who sees not the future but the past, a time traveller named Error and many others.

“Song for a Future Generation,” which opened last night in the Production Workshop Downspace, tells a peculiar and hilarious fable that unfolds into different story lines. Like many fictions, the production aspires to embody worldly frustrations toward contemporary society by telling otherworldly tales.

Everyone has come to the party for different reasons. Everyone is their own style of misfit. For example, Error, called so due to an error in his naming — he intended to call himself Era — is a time traveler who squanders his time travel on a lost love.

Each of the three Marikas clones struggles to voice an individual self. Thena is haunted by her ability to envision an intangible past. Though each individual’s situation is clearly demarcated, their desires eventually unify into a strident howl of catharsis. The show is about self-identity, about human contact, about our need to be individual and to belong.

Though genetically identical, the Marikas clones, portrayed by Rebecca Carrol ’15, Ana Marx ’18 and Nika Salazar ’16, manifest discrepancies as the plot develops. The actresses deliver performances that seem appropriately synchronized while also displaying some distinctive characteristics. Richard Flores ’16 demonstrates great theatrical versatility in his depiction of Error, a character who reeks of uncertainty and confusion. Flores acts responsively to Error’s initial tendency toward frivolity and his final phases of determination.

Audie Fierberg ’15.5 plays the offbeat psychic whose dreams consist of the demises of planets and civilizations. As the show goes on, she turns out to be one of the most crucial characters, bringing the show together in the end. Fierberg has exacting control over the evolution of the character — at one point she is a nonchalant, objective observer, while at another point a fragile human being like everyone else.

The setting of the stage is as futuristic as it is retrospective, with its black-and-white tiled floor, staircases leading to a second floor with railings, silver curtains and deserted bottles and cups of alcohol in the corner. Periodically, objects like a robot DJ emerge that specifically insinuate the futuristic setting. The style is purposefully flamboyant — a motley mixture of gaudy clothing and makeup that creates a pastiche of silhouettes and hues, all richly appropriate for this absurd story.

Jonathan Adam ’16, the production’s sound designer, accentuates the scenes with music clips that accomplish the same mission as the visuals. Though it does not appear in the soundtrack many times, the theme song, “Song for a Future Generation” by the B-52s, reverberates thematically as the show carries on. All in all, the designs of show are rife with references both to the past and to contemporary cultures. The cast illuminates the stage with immense zeal. The show kicks off with everyone maintaining seemingly ostentatious and comedic expressions and positions that parody theater work in their overt theatricality. But as the truths of each individual are gradually revealed, genuine and candid emotions start to prevail.

When stripped of all the unique characters — when the notions of supernatural and futuristic elements are subtracted — these stories are veritable contemporary scenes. “Song for a Future Generation” speaks to the continuum of confusions and battles troubling us since the dawn of time and our unquenchable desires for self-reflection.

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