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On creating a real ‘Destroyer’

May 13, 2011
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Published in Metro

“Bellona, Destroyer of Cities” takes place in a forgotten metropolis, one that’s been mysteriously decimated by a cataclysmic event that no one can explain.

“It’s in the middle of nowhere and nobody knows how to get there anymore,” says director Jay Scheib, who adapted the play from Samuel R. Delany’s famous science fiction novel, “Dhalgren.” “It takes a lot of American society’s preoccupations and obsessions, the good and the bad, and focuses them on one city.”

Scheib blends passages from the book with original material such as live video and chaotic movement sequences to explore a theme of reality versus fiction.

“I’ve often thought of the theater as being this great artistic medium to use fiction as a means to contest reality,” he says. “What that means in practical terms is that the acting style that the ensemble and I have developed is remarkably visceral. There are times when you really can’t distinguish whether an accident that just occurred on stage is real or planned.”

The show is the second in Scheib’s MIT-developed “Simulated Cities/Simulated Systems” trilogy. The first centered on an American city on Mars. The third, for which Scheib just won a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, will be about people who discover they’re living in a computer simulation.

Fun to stay at ICA

“Having a theater with glass walls is kind of challenging,” says Scheib about presenting his play at the ICA. “But it creates a situation where you get to respond to the architecture.”

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