Stephen F. Austin State University

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'Mr. Burns' takes funny, poignant look at post-apocalyptic world

October 18, 2017 - Robbie Goodrich
Playwright Anne Washburn's "Mr. Burns, a post-electric play" will be performed by the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Nov. 7 through 11, in W.M. Turner Auditorium in the Griffith Fine Arts Building, 2222 Alumni Drive, on the SFA campus.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Playwright Anne Washburn's "Mr. Burns, a post-electric play" has something for everyone, and the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre will bring the imaginative dark comedy to life as part of its 2017-18 Mainstage Series.

Described by The New York Times as "downright brilliant," "Mr. Burns" is a show that embodies what its director, Slade Billew, loves most about the theatre.

"It has a bit of everything," said Billew, assistant professor of acting/movement in the SFA School of Theatre. "It is funny and tragic. It includes fights, dances and songs. It is profound and hilarious. Additionally, I hope that the connections to 'The Simpsons,' pop culture, and a post-apocalyptic future will appeal to our student audiences."

The play follows six people (and later seven) who have survived a nationwide nuclear power disaster. Society has collapsed, and there is no electricity. In Act One, the characters sit around a fire and try to recall an episode of "The Simpsons." Act Two occurs seven years later. The survivors have regrouped and formed a theatre company performing old episodes of "The Simpsons." They are seen in rehearsal where we discover more about the world they have helped remake. Act Three takes place 82 years after the initial disaster and includes a full musical performance of an episode of "The Simpsons."

"Mr. Burns" requires the director and student actors to pay great attention to detail, Billew explained.

"The play's complexity requires an intense level of attention to detail and coordination of all the elements of production," he said. "The show asks so much of the cast in the movement between extremes of emotion and the physicality of all the songs and dances."

The script has been described as providing an interesting examination of the importance of oral history and theatre. According to The New York Times, Washburn's play "makes us appreciate anew the profound value of storytelling in and of itself… Mr. Burns…makes the case for theater as the most glorious and durable storyteller of all."

"The play has something for everyone, and it raises interesting questions about how humans handle tragedy and the role art plays in the recovery," Billew said.

"Mr. Burns, a post-electric play" is not appropriate for young children.

The play will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Nov. 7 through 11, in W.M. Turner Auditorium in the Griffith Fine Arts Building, 2222 Alumni Drive, on the SFA campus.

Single tickets are $15 for adult, $10 for senior and $7.50 for student/youth. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.theatre.sfasu.edu.