Lost in spacePublished 10:55pm Thursday, October 17, 2013
Nansemond-Suffolk Academy theater arts students float through space on office chairs in a fall play production based on a short story by the late science fiction novelist Ray Bradbury.
“Kaleidoscope,” which appeared in Bradbury’s 1951 short story collection “The Illustrated Man,” tells of astronauts floating hopelessly through space after their ship malfunctions.
The doomed crew members reflect on their lives and what they have and have not accomplished. The narrator is desperate to have had at least some impact on mankind …
Director Wanda Oberdorfer said the biggest challenge was depicting outer space on a stage using lighting and props.
The office chairs seem to work pretty well: A few gentle kicks off the floor of the stage, and the actors roll in random directions in a fairly meaningless manner. Tactical stage lighting increases the effect.
“The idea is they are nowhere near each other,” Oberdorfer said. “They are floating out in space.”
On Saturday, the students performed the play at the Virginia Association of Independent Schools Theatre Festival Competition at Norfolk Academy.
“It went very well,” Oberdorfer said. “We had wonderful comments from the judges. They were amazed that we did it. This is a piece where you really have to depend on your students being actors; they have to project their characters. That takes preparation, and a lot of maturity.”
One challenge the students faced, Oberdorfer said, is the fact that Bradbury, who died last year, was a generation or two removed from their own.
“They had no clue who he was,” she said. “I gave them a little history about the space program.”
Oberdorfer said she chose the play because it suits the small cast, and she wanted to challenge her students.
“I raise the bar every time they do something,” she said.
On Friday, the students will stage the play twice again — for an NSA upper school assembly at 2 p.m., and for the general public at 7 p.m.
The 7 p.m. show in the school’s newly renovated cafeteria is free.