In 2010 a bunch of creatives and
scientists came together to imagine a weird and wonderful theatre
show that would bridge the quark-sized gap between quantum physics
and the stage. The result was a twenty-minute selection of scenes
that was planned to become The Amazing Adventures of Doctor Faustroll
and his Search for the Luminiferous Aether. MORST - the
Ministry of Research into Science and Technology - provided money
through its Smash Palace Fund. The audience was transported by bus to
Peter Jackson and Jamie Selkirk's Stone St Studios in Miramar. The
pilot show was a great success and director Charlie Bleakley,
writer Jean Betts, designer Joe Bleakley, producer Howard Taylor, and physicists Matt
Vissar and Nick Wyatt set out to develop the next stage of the script.
In early 2012, armed with a new script and a new title - Into the Uncanny Valley - the Lumina team and BATS Theatre agreed to stage a season as part of it's STAB season. Australian musician-composer Adam Page was brought on to contribute to the music. Buster Flaws and Paddy Bleakley started work on sound design and Deidre Tarrant came back to choreograph. Into the Uncanny Valley opened at BATS on November 3 and by the beginning of its second week had sold out.
Uncanny Valley Credits
The Pilot production: pix, video and credits
Some excerpts from Reviews
"Theatrically exquisite" – Laurie Atkinson, Dominion Post
"The production's strength is the absolutely jaw dropping visual and sound design, including set, lighting, A-V projections, sound and music. At regular intervals it prompts a sense of "how on earth did they do that?" wonder and serves to create an atmosphere of uncanny other-worldliness. Description wouldn't do justice to the various spectacles that are created; the production is worth seeing for the boundary pushing design alone. Full credit must go to director Charlie Bleakley, designer Joe Bleakley, producer Howard Taylor and the talented team they have assembled." - Helen Sim, Theatreview
"The opening few minutes of this fusion of physics and theatre take your breath away – it's a lighting and sound sensation that promises something remarkable. The STAB shows are all about exploring new technology (tick), boundary pushing (tick), experimentation (tick), and producing an unforgettable night at the theatre (tick). Taking on physics and the universe for 90 minutes in a small black box is madness, but Charlie Bleakley and his remarkable team of actors and crew produce one hell of a big bang on stage.
Jennifer Lal has been a leading light in lighting for years and in Uncanny Valley all that experimentation and experience fuse together. It's a work of great beauty – light, the play says, is what holds the universe together and Lal's lighting is a defining feature of a beautiful production. Paddy Bleakley, Buster Flaws and Laura Dunkley's complex soundscapes, and Adam Page's music, and Dan Untitled and Tim Jordan's projection design, are also fundamental to the production's brilliance.
Think Alice's Wonderland is not down a rabbit hole but up in the stars and you get a feeling for how this is structured. Our heroine starts to wonder about the universe, and we follow her surreal journey. There's a bit of a nod to Hitchhiker's Guide too, with a couple of mice showing people the conundrum that is the definition of light – particles or waves? We are also reminded that the theatre and science share the crucial spark for both – imagination.
There is a lot of science packed into the play, too much really, it can feel like an entertainingly performed physics lecture at times. But that doesn't really matter in this play about matter. It's a huge cast and crew behind this remarkable production and they all deserve an A+."
– Lyn Freeman, Capital Times