THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF ANTARCTICA Comes to Stage West
What would bring you to the bottom of the world? Scientific research? A journey of self-discovery? An escape from a world you don't fit into? Whatever the reasons, it will certainly be a life-changing experience, as we see in Mat Smart's funny and thoughtful The Royal Society of Antarctica, beginning a 5-week regional premiere run at Stage West on Thursday, August 24.
Dee is a rare individual-she is the only person ever to have been born at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. But not long after her birth, her mother Shannon went outside-for reasons unknown-and disappeared in a white-out. Dee's father refuses to talk about it, so now Dee has signed on to work as a janitor on "The Ice," hoping to learn...something. Once there, she finds herself part of a ragtag group of misfits and scientists: Tim, the lead janitor, Tamara, a dining attendant, Tom, a technician who knew Dee's parents, Pam, a reclusive fuel technician, Ace, the bartender with an agenda, Navy midshipman Miller, and biology grad student Jake.
Amongst long work hours and a harsh and confining environment, Dee quickly finds acceptance in this endearingly oddball group, but answers? But she soon learns that sometimes the answers we seek are only met with more questions. It's a journey of laughter and discovery, which audiences will find both entertaining and touching.
"I really didn't want the show to end. I'd laughed and thought all night, and I felt like I would miss these people." Chicago Tribune
Mat Smart writes plays about his hometown (Naperville, IL) and his travels (he's been to all 50 states and all of the continents). He received the 2015 Equity Jeff Award for Best New Work in Chicago for The Royal Society of Antarctica (Gift Theatre), which was developed at the Playwrights' Center in PlayLabs 2013 and inspired by his three-month stint working as a janitor at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Mat's newest plays include Midwinter (commission from the Denver Center Theatre Company, workshop at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit) and Eden Prairie, 1971, inspired by his three years living in Minneapolis from 2008 to 2011. He recently returned from South America where he spent time volunteering on an organic farm outside Mendoza, Argentina. Other plays include: Naperville, Tinker to Evers to Chance, Samuel J. and K., The Hopper Collection, The 13th of Paris, and The Debate over Courtney O'Connell of Columbus, Nebraska. He is an alumnus of the Writer/Director Lab at Soho Rep, Play Group at Ars Nova, the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages, and The Working Farm at SPACE on Ryder Farm. He is a co-Artistic Director of NYC's Slant Theatre Project.
The Royal Society of Antarctica will be directed by Lee Trull, Director of New Play Development at the Dallas Theater Center. Seven of the cast are actors making their Stage West debuts: newbie Dee will be played by Grace Montie, technicians UT Tim and UT Tom will be played by Drew Wall and Michael Federico, respectively, bartender Ace by Christopher Dontrell Piper, dining hall worker Tamara by Kelly Stewart, midshipman Miller by Christopher Lew, and grad student Jake by Ruben Carrazana. Rounding out the cast will be Stage West Executive Producer Dana Schultes, who will play the reclusive Pam.
Set Design will be by N. Ryan McBride, with lighting design by Aaron Johansen, costume design by Aaron Patrick DeClerk, and sound design by Kellen Voss. Choreography will be handled by Kelsey Milbourn, with props/set décor by Lynn Lovett.
The Royal Society of Antarctica will preview Thursday, August 24 at 7:30 and Friday, August 25 at 8:00, and will run through Sunday, September 24. Performance times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00, with Sunday matinees at 3:00. The opening night reception will be Saturday, August 26. Ticket prices range from $31 to $35, with discounts for the preview performance, and for students, seniors, and military. Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations are necessary). Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378), or on the website, www.stagewest.org.
NOTE: This show contains some strong language.