Photo courtesy of behindthecurtaincincy.com | Cannibal Galaxy: a love story world premiered at Xavier this past weekend.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article contained a few factual errors. They have since been corrected.
What is a “cannibal galaxy,” and why was it on Xavier’s stage before any other? According to Theatre Director Steven Skiles, Cannibal Galaxy: a love story is just one example of the countless unique experiences Xavier Theatre offers its students to collaborate not only with professionals, but also with experts thriving in their field.
Charise Greene, actor, coach, director and playwright of Cannibal Galaxy, sent a preliminary version of the script to Cincinnati two years prior to its premiere this past weekend.
In conjunction with Faultline Theatre in New York City, Xavier workshopped the piece in its earliest form.
Cannibal Galaxy explores the “American way” of coping in a post-traumatic environment through the eyes of the scientific community by abstractly documenting the responses of five workers in a science museum.
The play identifies the diverse reactions to grief that affects not simply an individual but rather a community rattled by the collateral damage of a traumatic incident.
This was inspired by Greene’s own response to the Newtown shooting in 2012 and other tragedies like it.
Greene explained that, for her, the play was “a processing mechanism for what was happening in our world.”
She wondered how scientists think of continual violence and invented characters based on her own responses to tragedy: a new “screw it” attitude, a wake up call, a desire for companionship, a craving for drastic change and most of all, insatiable desire for answers to big questions.
Greene flew all the way from New York to Cincinnati at seven months pregnant to host a talkback after the final performance last Friday.
“I made what is considered now to be an impossible play,” Greene told the audience after sharing that her non-literal stage directions included, “Vadim is raped,” and “Jo gives birth to herself.”
The characters physically and individually represented their pain without dialogue in a sudden moment after a series of cries for help, screams and flashing lights indicated the unnamed tragedy.
This moment was heightened by seating the audience on the stage and in the action.
Greene went on to reveal that “coming here (to Xavier) and having no control has been amazing.”
The intentionally strange and often vague stage directions invited the actors and producers to develop the show in a manner highly specific to their own idiosyncratic perception of not only the imperceptible event but also their own human reaction to the work.
At its core, the beauty of this talkback and the performance as a whole is an exploration of a loss of control, leaving the audience moved by the piece.
“(Workshopping with Xavier) was a profound experience for me… we know we’ve tapped into something that makes people lean forward,” Greene said.
Frequently throughout the talkback, Greene would turn questions back to the audience, joking that she should pay us for our reflections and insights.
The audience was intentionally left befuddled by the erratic storyline and ambiguous plot holes that created the opportunity for audience identification with onstage emotion.
Cannibal Galaxy: a Love Story will be produced next spring by theatre company Between Two Boroughs after having been first sculpted and hosted on Xavier’s stage.
To donate to Cannibal Galaxy’s production process, click here.
By: Brittany Wells ~Guest Writer~