Chatting with the stars of Milky Way Theatre Company’s inaugural play festival finale. A musical adventure written by astrophysicist. David Quang Pham’s ELLIPSES.
Book, Music, and Lyrics by David Quang Pham
Directed by Jay Michaels
Music Direction by Simon Brouke
Assistant Directed by Si Nicole
ELLIPSES’ universe centers on the Galaxy family and their dog, Gravity. The celestial family battles the forces of puberty, maturity, relationships, dreams and ambitions, and other forces – all ending with a Big Bang.
Enter our orbit on Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 7:30PM
At the launchpad: Theatre 71 at Blessed Sacrament
152 W 71st St, New York City
Eternity is only 90 minutes in ELLIPSES, a family musical of epic proportions. Comparing the formation of our universe to the formation of a normal (?) family is the story behind astrophysicist, David Quang Pham’s wild musical ride directed by stage and film director, Jay Michaels. Ellipses uses astrological metaphors to help rationalize the universe of emotions that form as members of a single-parent family grow-up.
Family is a universe of everything.
The cast includes Joseph Lee, Maria Noriko Cabral, Isaac Williams, Karina Ordóñez, Kristen Smith, Carla Angeline Mongado, Yoosep Im, Yasmin Ranz-Lind, Oscar Chicaiza, Flynn Jungbin Byun, Leigh Dillon, Chris King, Sabrina López, Gabriella McKinley, Caitlyn Somerville, Eli Wassertzug, Kenedi Chriske, and Chyna Jackson.
Jay Michaels – a university professor and member of the indie arts community since the off-off Broadway movement – is a prominent figure in the horror and sci-fi communities as host of FearCon TV on ROKU and “the voice of Boston Sci-Fi” on Filmocracy. His book, Hidden Monsters: The Morality of Horror and Sci-Fi published by Red Cape Publishing will be out Fall of 2023. \
We asked the cast of this exciting new work their tjhoughts about the future of theatre post-pandemic and the -well- future itself!
Now that Covid is starting to subside, what should theatre look like post-pandemic?
David Quang Pham New works and new stories had always been and should be more-than-ever the lifeblood of theatre. Theatres should be healthier than ever before; an ecosystem of diverse creators and performers with safeguards for artists of any ability and body. When it comes to touching, intimacy coordinators are a must for each production. As a dramaturg myself, dramaturgs should join in as respected researchers of any creative team.
How important is science fiction in understanding science fact … and the future?
David Quang Pham’s Science fiction is fundamental in helping everyday people understand science facts. The readers and viewers often seek logic whether it is the psychology of a character fits in a horror fiction or it is the clothes on a character fits the era of a historical fiction. Besides utilizing elements of science documentaries like its coherent visual effects, science fiction personifies science phenomena and processes that we cannot see in reality.
Science fiction’s technologies consistently make fiction a reality. Anything engineered in science fiction often can be engineered in real life. An example is STAR TREK’s communicators which inspired Martin Cooper to invent the first personal cell phone. Science fiction not only understands the future but shapes the future.
We asked members of the cast the same questions and got a galaxy of answers
Isaac Williams: I am both interested in what theatre should like and feel like; theatre should look diverse while feeling safe & inclusive. Some individuals might say that the terms diversity and inclusivity are overused, however, I would say that these two terms should be the structural foundation of any show or theatrical company. Diversity is more than just race; diversity is age, socioeconomic status, religion, sexuality, gender, and more. Allowing those from different backgrounds to originate theatrical roles is essential in our goal to diversify theater on a global scale.
This is a really interesting question. I feel as though science fiction often serves as a warning. Oftentimes, sci-fi films revolve around the idea that curiosity is what will lead humans to corrupt themselves. I don’t know that I’ve ever really learned about scientific fact while watching or reading science fiction; I feel as though they operate on two different timelines. But, as I briefly touched on, science fiction does tell us a lot about the future. The future can be as lovely or as dark as we, humans, would like it to be. Technology is a huge driving force in determining our route through eternity; we must be mindful of our curiosity.
Covid left an undeniable mark on this world. Some people lost so much ,some a little ,and some nothing at all. Although the losses were felt differently i think it’s something we can all relate to and sympathize with. I believe that the pent up energy from being on lockdown and watching/experiencing people get sick has altered everyone in the world including artists. Theatre should look like that post-pandemic, it should look and feel like a great shift. Brave and honest stories from all walks of life being supported, boosted, and told. Because like covid, just because it may not have happened to you or impacted you in the same way, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter and shouldn’t be shared.
Science fiction has always been so important in understanding science fact and future because science fiction is imagination and imagination is what birthed the modern world we have. Every idea and invention came from someone’s mind that was then crafted into reality. Science fiction is how we can work towards and manifest what will be possible in the future.
Yasmin Ranz-Lind I think theatre has the opportunity to be more equitable, both in terms of content and personnel. It’s time to let creative, experimental work have a place in our theatrical landscape. It’s a time to take more risks, because there is no protocol for what happens to theatre in a world of social distancing and masking. We must continue to find safe ways to create theatre, in terms of COVID and approaching new or difficult terrain content-wise. I don’t think we are necessarily post-pandemic; we are still learning and growing and adapting. And I think that is exactly what we should be doing with theatre.
Yasmin Ranz-Lind I have loved science fiction since I was a little kid. I come from a sci-fi loving family, between Battlestar Galactica and Firefly (my favorites) and the eternal Star Wars vs Star Trek debate between my parents. Science fiction allows us to stretch our imaginations as far as humanly (or not humanly) possible. Anything someone can cook up in their brain could become reality at some point. In terms of understanding fact, sci-fi allows us to see how our own society looks (or could look) in a bite-sized or manageable way. It’s hard to confront or stomach certain things at face value; we have to put it in a fictional or impossible setting in order to recognize that it’s actually a reflection of how things really are; whether in the scientific, political or societal realm.
Joseph Lee Well, definitely it seems like the theatre is coming back to look like the way before pandemic. However, from the experience we had in the past during the pandemic, there could be more opportunities to utilize remote experiences: either a rehearsal process, or an audience experience. The theatre should absolutely find its place back, but there should be some changes in terms of interactions between the audience members and performers, adopting new ways to deliver ideas and stories. I think the most important role a science fiction can play aside from the risk it may give false information, is that it provokes interest to the peers. I remember watching and reading science fiction, and found myself the urge to study and seek for scientific logic behind it. Then, it further provokes creative thinking, which can lead to an innovation.
Kenedi Chriske The pandemic persuaded most people into turning to social media for a means of filling an abundance of time. While I believe this may have taken away from some experiences, I also believe the theatre industry would not have made the progress it has without the social media surge. People paid more attention to lives outside their own, and we began sympathizing more and more with those that had similar dreams, but may have faced much more adversity when working for them. Now, coming out of the pandemic, the industry seems to be listening more. Casting is happening more accurately and more inclusively; still, there’s so much more progress that can be made. We’re always growing and learning as humans and artists, and we can only expect the same of the theatre industry as a whole. Personally, I want to see more inclusivity as far as people with disabilities being the actors onstage, amongst fully able actors. The more this real life casting is normalized, the more the audience will embrace it; hopefully this can then translate off the stage and begin making our world more accepting and accessible as a whole.
I believe science fiction is crucial to a world wide understanding of science fact. After high school and college, many people do not encounter the nuances of science fact and studied theories of future, other than what is explained on the news, tv shows, etc. Though science fiction can’t explain everything, it’s an efficient and entertaining way to get information to people. And what else can we ask for other than an entertaining story intertwined with real truth about our planet and our lives. What makes Ellipses so wonderful is that it is more informative than most science fiction. It’s wildly entertaining, but also packed with real science in the most fascinating way that you can take it all in.
Maria Noriko Cabral
I think that one of the positives that came out of theater is self tapes and the accessibility that came from it. Having the ability to now have a combined in-person and virtual audition has opened for more opportunity to submit anywhere in the world. That being said, we should continue that combined submission to keep that accessibility there. I believe that post-pandemic, theaters should also no longer think that Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility is optional. There has been so many promises from companies that there would be change during the pandemic and now they need to follow through or else they lose the chance to bring in a newer audience that will help keep theatre alive.
Science fiction is about discovery and endless possibilities. It teaches how to find wonder in the world around us. It is also a great way to tackle big ideas. We gain a better understanding of how things work. Our respect for the rules of science fiction can translate to a respect for science fact. We learn the importance of discipline and the ever changing nature of knowledge. We learn how to think critically.
I think theater should be like it was before – live and maskless. As performers we spend our time tirelessly working to bring entertainment to our audiences. Seeing their full faces in the audience feeds our performances allowing us to give them the very best. In order to continue that, we need to continue to take care of ourselves. One thing I have learned with the pandemic is that mental health is just as important as physical health. Maintaining both my physical and mental health enables me to come to the stage each and every day and give everything I have to my performance. I believe that this awareness will also be what helps theater continue to remain live and enable audiences to be free of their masks.