Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Doing Time" by Mac Tonnies to be first Semaphore production

The first play that I'll be producing and directing for my new theatre company, Semaphore Theatre, will be Doing Time, which American author Mac Tonnies (that's him pictured at the left) is currently beavering away at finishing for me.

It's an exciting prospect to give Mac the opportunity to move into a new artistic milieu, and to premiere a new work by a fine young author (and my good friend).

Here is Mac's description of the play:

Doing Time deals with the concept of time and the subjectivity of experience. In the play (adapted from a short-story), an amnesiac character finds herself in a ghastly environment from which she feels compelled to escape. Only later in the play is it revealed that she's a convict who's been involuntarily immersed in a virtual environment in lieu of physical imprisonment. Even more disorienting from the character's perspective, her induced 'dream' of imprisonment seems to have lasted hundreds of years -- yet law officials in the 'real' world assure her that only minutes have elapsed. Primary themes include the ethics of human-machine relationships and the potentially dehumanizing effects of technology. But the focus of the play is the role of time. Secondary characters are bureaucrats from the outside world who inform the main character of the nature of her dilemma and assist in her release.
The play itself is adapted from a short story in Mac's critically acclaimed collection of science-fiction short stories, Illumined Black, which was written a decade ago, when Mac was only twenty years old.

Booklist wrote:

With little more than small-press exposure to his credit, 20-year-old Tonnies makes an early bid for greater recognition with his first collection of short fiction, an uneven but always absorbing assortment of sketches that reveals a surprisingly mature craftsman at home with the vernacular of contemporary sf. In "Alchemist's Planet," a transformed human recalls, decades after the crash of an extraterrestrial spacecraft near Roswell, New Mexico, his previous identity as one of the aliens. In "Doing Time," a killer's sentence in a virtual reality prison is only five seconds long but subjectively lasts 500 years. In the title story, a neuroscientist's brain becomes the unwitting cargo of a space probe launched as a gift to an alien species. Tonnies' only major shortcoming is his inability to satisfactorily develop the plots of intriguing scenarios; he sometimes leaves the reader asking for more. His command of language, however, is indisputable. With a little more seasoning, Tonnies may become a major sf author"
Ten years of seasoning have given Mac that ability to develop plots. For actors, his ability to command language should tell you all you need to know about the kind of characters he creates - ones that have something to say, and say it well.

I'm very excited about working with Mac on this, and bringing a different kind of play to the Halifax theatre scene.

A casting call will go out sometime in the early summer.

In the meantime, you can check out Mac's latest short story in Flurb, an on-line sci-fi 'zine, here.

Also, he has created a blog for his new fiction, which you can find here.

Finally, you can never go wrong by checking in at least once a day at his main blog, Posthuman Blues. There's always some interesting stuff posted there.

Paul Kimball