“The Singularity Machine,” explained Carpentier-Alting, is a play about a family trying to escape a world in crisis through the use of a device that will transport them into the future.
Friday, April 3, would have been the premier performance of “The Singularity Machine” at the College of the Siskiyous’ Kenneth Ford Theater in Weed. The play, told in two acts, is the creation of COS director Neil Carpentier-Alting and deals with humanity’s quest to survive climate catastrophe.
“Who would’ve thought a play about the end of the world would get canceled by the end of the world?” said Carpentier-Alting.
“The Singularity Machine,” explained Carpentier-Alting, is a play about a family trying to escape a world in crisis through the use of a device that will transport them into the future. The primary question that the play attempts to address is how humanity will survive the effects of the impending climate catastrophe and overcome societal divisions in time to pull together. Oh, and there are lots of killer robots too.
On the stage for their first and final technical rehearsal on Monday, March 16, COS students and actors were able to at least film some scenes with lights and technical props in action before the early shelter-in-place order went into effect on March 19. The students will most likely not be able to stage a live performance this year.
The play was a completely in-house creation. Carpentier-Alting provided the main inspiration with an eight-page narrative, and local musicians Dave Theno and Tristan Behm composed the score. COS dance instructor Wendy James provided choreography oversight, Nic Fabrio was in charge of costume design and Amy LaMachia oversaw makeup.
“We were just able to get each scene on film,” said Carpentier-Alting. “We have had to move classes to an online format with the thought that we may have to do this again in the fall. For now, we are getting together with the cast to record our experiences with the pandemic with the hopes of making something out of it.”
Stage Makeup instructor Amy LaMachia will continue teaching the students online. She prepared makeup kits for each student and says they will be able to finish the semester but there are challenges.
“These students are so resilient and creative, I honestly cannot wait to see what they come up with for these remaining modules,” LaMachia said. “So much of what makes our department as amazing as it is, is the personal connection we have with our students. We hope to foster that even if it is through an internet connection.”
“The Singularity Machine” was created as a piece of devised theater in which all the cast, crew and technicians collectively create a piece of visual art. The collaborative process uses dance, gesture, music and sound to tell the story. The play follows the quest of a father, mother, and their daughter as they travel through time to escape calamity. The father looks to technology to save humanity, while the mother looks to rouse others to their cause. It is their child who ultimately leads them to a new and better world. The dynamic piece of theater follows the three travelers as they battle sentient robots, meet strange alien civilizations, and travel through time through an on-stage portal. For Carpentier-Alting and his fellow instructors the focus now is on preserving the play digitally and thinking about a remount in the fall.
“How do we plan for this level of uncertainty in this new world?” Carpentier-Alting said. “How do we plan for anything now?”
Answering his own question, Carpentier-Alting offers the play as a possible starting point.
“The play assumes adopting and cultivating humane practices in all aspects of life will help to create a broader safety net and increase the rate of survival,” he said. “Change is necessary for survival and growth.”