By Marcy Stamper
An original sci-fi political thriller that explores themes of climate change, surveillance and the power of corporations is the collective brainchild of Liberty Bell Drama Company and the group’s drama coach Danbert Nobacon.
Brain Circus — NY 2025 puts a dozen characters in the near future in an unfolding story that the audience understands even before the characters do, said Nobacon.
The play, which will be performed at The Merc Playhouse in Twisp on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (May 1-3), is set in New York City, where a wall is under construction to protect the city from rising sea levels. The play takes the notion of living in a time of crisis to a new level, said Nobacon.
“It’s about corruption and collateral damage and the extreme power of corporations,” said actor and Liberty Bell High School senior Tabitha Bergevin-Krumme.
The story puts teenagers — including a Canadian pop star, a child actor and high school students — in an experiment where they are being watched but don’t quite know it, said Nobacon. “They think they’re doing field trials for drug tests, but it’s more of a front for a sinister, black-budget government program,” he said.
The play shows how the teens get caught up in a global story and weaves in a subplot of rebellion, said Nobacon.
While Nobacon wrote the initial script, the play has evolved over the course of rehearsals as students provided input. They didn’t start out knowing how it would end, but the story developed its own logic, he said.
Senior and actor Holly Radwick said working improvisationally was new to her. “It was great to be told, ‘Here’s an idea — now, let’s work on it.’ You get to evolve with your character. It’s a lot more fun,” she said.
The play includes live music, composed by Nobacon — a former member of the British anarcho/punk group Chumbawamba — and performed by him and the students. The play also incorporates fake commercials created by the cast, hawking futuristic products.
Nobacon and the students are building and painting sets to evoke the New York skyline and a split-screen effect so the audience sees two worlds at once.
Many of the actors have had some previous experience in theater. Radwick — who is co-directing for extra credit — said she had always wanted to do drama but was initially too shy. “Then I ended up acting and it went from there,” she said.
Brain Circus will be performed at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 for students and $10 for adults.