'A Wrinkle in Time' opens at OSF
In four seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Tracy Young has worked on Luis Alfaro's "Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner," commedia adaptations of Carlo Goldini's "A Servant of Two Masters" and Moliere's "The Imaginary Invalid," and co-adapted and co-directed last year's production of "Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella."
This season, Young is adapting and directing American writer Madeleine L'Engle's science fiction novel, "A Wrinkle in Time," to be presented on the Angus Bowmer Stage at OSF.
First published in 1962, the story follows teenager and math whiz Meg Murry and her strangely gifted little brother as they search time and space for their father, a government scientist who went missing after working on a mysterious project called a tesseract.
The inspiration for L'Engle's story came while she was traveling with her parents across country, looking at deserts, treeless mountains and other landscapes that seemed alien to her home in Connecticut. She also was reading about quantum physics at the time.
On a stormy night, Meg, her brother and mother are joined in their kitchen by Mrs. Whatsit — a mysterious old woman who lives in an old house near the Murrys. When Meg and her brother pay a visit, they find Mrs. Whatsit, along with Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, who tell them they will help find and rescue their father, but they must tesser — travel rapidly across wrinkles in space — and combat the evil Black Thing that is threatening the universe.
"I want the play to be fresh, surprising and engaging," Young says in a videotaped interview at www.osfashland.org. "The piece will be centered around an ensemble of actors who will create a fantastical world. The vast landscapes that the characters careen between in the story will be created with theatrical vocabulary and the imaginative physical endeavors.
"Like when you were a kid and wanted to create a magical world with a handful of everyday objects," she says. "You use what you have. In many ways, it feels more magical because of that."
The play previews at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 18, and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 19, in the Bowmer Theatre on the OSF campus, 15 S. Pioneer St., Ashland. The show opens at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 20, and runs through Nov. 1. Tickets start at $25, $60, $74 and $92 and can be purchased online at www.osfashland.org or by calling 541-482-4331.
Lynn Jeffries created puppets for the production, Shawn Sagady created film projections, set design is by Christopher Acebo and lighting design is by Robert Wierzel. Costumes are by Alex Jaeger.
The cast includes Actors' Equity Association members Alejandra Escalante, Sara Bruner, Dan Donohue, Kate Hurster, Michele Mais, Judith-Marie Bergan, Mark Bedard, U. Jonathan Toppo, Kate Mulligan and Daniel T. Parker, along with Joe Wegner, Jeremy Thompson and Jada Rae Perry.
L'Engle isn't the only writer to be inspired by tesseracts. The 1941 short story "And He Built a Crooked House," by science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, describes an architect's attempt to build a house in the shape of a tesseract, a four-dimensional shape that looks like a cube within a cube connected at the corners by spokes.
In L'Engle's novel, the tesseract functions like a wormhole, a portal from one area of space to another.
The concept will be familiar to Marvel comic book fans. The Cosmic Cube, or tesseract, first appeared in "Tales of Suspense" (1966), reappeared in "Captain America" (1969), then returned in "The Avengers" and in "The Fantastic Four" (1988). After a storyline that ran through "The Avengers" and "Captain America" in 1995, it was sealed in a containment chamber and has not been seen in comics since.
The Cosmic Cube is a plot point in the films "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011) and "Marvel's The Avengers" (2012).