ETHER, The Strange Afterlife Of Harry Houdini And Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Makes World Premiere At IRT Theater
Harry Houdini wrote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle a heartfelt plea to recommend a medium "you know to be genuine." His mother had just died and he wanted proof she had not completely vanished. The friends investigated mediums in the U.K., France and the U.S., where Scientific American was to pronounce the medium Margery genuine. They witnessed Eva C's ecotoplasm and, in Atlantic City, Lady Doyle's inspired communication.
ETHER, based on their letters, recreates the seances and their dramatically opposite narratives. As the gap widened, the "frenemies," denounced each other on stages around the world with no end but their fortunes and lives. In the Afterlife of ETHER, the two are stuck in their passionate war about the nature of life and death. Was the Spiritualist, a doctor and author, a deluded fanatic? Was the ecape artist and master of physical illusion an unbiased observer of phenomena? As evidence mounts up, subjective and objective truths erupt in a transcendent conclusion.
The action in this play within a play, told with projections, puppetry, and stage magic, is orchestrated by their wives, Bess and Lady Doyle. They are aware that their worlds; Doyle's study and and Houdini's show, are contained within the Afterlife-our present in abstracted media. They are also tethered to their husbands. Eons weary, they join forces to resolve the bitter conflict-- so all can move on.
ETHER's themes reverberate in out world. "Fake" news versus objective evidence, science vs. faith, the role of greed and profiteering in manipulating emotion and fates. Go no further than climate catastrophe vs. the mystery of our planet and the play's metaphysical bet about physical reality echoes the ongoing query of our species.
Marcus Gualberto is director, Charlie Kanev is scenographer, Kelley Alonga is Stagemanager.Cast Includes Lauren Elizabeth as Bess Houdini, Patrick Hamilton as Houdini, Chelsea Rodriguez as Lady Doyle, Thomas Vorsteg as Doyle.
I.R.T. Theater is a grassroots laboratory for independent theater and performance in New York City, providing space and support to a new generation of artists. Tucked away in the old Archive Building in Greenwich Village, IRT's mission is to build a community of emerging and established artists by creating a home for the development and presentation of new work. The presentation of ETHER is part of the 3B Development Series. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council, New York State Council on the Arts, and The Nancy Quinn Fund, a project of ART-NY.