ABOUT THEATRE AND SCIENCE FICTION
When we think of science fiction, we think about Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Blade Runner, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Dune, War of the Worlds, District Nine...we think about film, TV, literature and radio. We do not think about theatre. Why would we?
In the twentieth century, science fiction in theatre was predominantly high-concept low comedy (Alan Ayckbourn) or low-concept high camp (Rocky Horror). The assumption was that theatre couldn't match the visuals and scope of other media without appearing either a failure or a farce - as encapsulated by The Simpsons' musical, Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off:
But society has changed massively, and science fiction now sits at the centre of our constantly evolving, online-offline, pop culture-conscious, tech-savvy world. Theatre is finding its own way of contributing to this, and in recent years there's been a surge of plays which draw on science fiction to address the ongoing technological, political and cultural developments in our society.
It's a growing body of work - Caryl Churchill's human cloning drama A Number; Jennifer Haley's virtual reality thriller The Nether; Anne Washburn's pop-culture, post-apocalyptic mashup Mr Burns; Alistair McDowall's claustrophobic space nightmare X; Tim Foley, Nick Payne, Tajinder Hayer, Ella Road, Thomas Eccleshare, Andrew Thompson, Morna Pearson, Superbolt, the Outbound Project...on and on and on. Driven by a passion for the stage and a real desire to interrogate who we are and where we're going, these practitioners (and many more) have brought the theatre into the twenty-first century - and beyond.
This website is a tool for tracking and discussing science fiction in theatre, from the overtly sci-fi to the covertly speculative, from space opera to dystopia, from award-winning playwrights to first-time play-makers.
Stage: the final frontier. These are the voyages...
Hi - I'm Ian Farnell. Thanks for visiting. I'm doing my PhD at the University of Warwick, writing on science fiction and contemporary British theatre - for this, read 'nerd'.
I completed my MA by Research in 2017 - which was subsequently upgraded to the degree of Master of Philosophy. My current work is funded by the Wolfson Foundation.
I've been published in Foundation and Fantastika journals, and have upcoming publications on the work of Alistair McDowall.