ISU Theatre opens season Friday

2016-17 productions

  • Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, Sept. 30
  • Cabaret, Nov. 4
  • The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, Dec. 2
  • The Importance of Being Earnest, Feb. 24
  • Little Women (musical), March 31
  • The Tempest, April 20

A new season for ISU Theatre opens this weekend with a dark comedy that features a musical finale. Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play is a contemporary production starring a group of survivors who band together after an apocalyptic event.

"Mr. Burns hinges on the act of storytelling -- mythmaking -- as a means not just of entertainment, but of survival," said assistant professor and show director Amanda Petefish-Schrag. "In the face of anxiety, uncertainty, catastrophe, the stories we tell ourselves, the television we binge watch, the songs we play on loop, get carried with us -- transformed by us -- as we meet our uncertain future."

The survivors find a common interest in The Simpsons animated TV show. Their collaboration progresses through three acts that take place in the future. The first act is set in the near future, with the survivors bonding after a worldwide disaster. By trying to remember and recreate the dialogue of an episode of The Simpsons, the survivors find a distraction from their plight.

That turns into more than just an exercise in the second act, as the audience catches up with the survivors seven years later. The group is performing a Simpsons-based postapocalyptic show that also includes other pop culture pieces from the past.

The third act, performed musically, reveals the long-lasting (about 75 years later) societal effects of the survivors' efforts. What began as a bonding exercise turns into an epic production interwoven with Simpsons characters, pop culture, a tribute to lives lost in the apocalypse and a reflection on events throughout the past.

The cast features eight actors, in addition to six chorus members and/or musicians. The show opens its two-weekend run in Fisher Theater on Friday, Sept. 30. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets, available through Ticketmaster or the Stephens box office, are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and $11 for students.