If you've ever seen a pop culture reference to time travel, you've most likely been influenced by H. G. Well's classic science fiction story, The Time Machine. Maybe you had to read the book in high school, or you were one of the seven people who saw the Guy Pearce movie version in theaters.
Whatever your fascination level with the source material, it's time to see The Time Machine with entirely new eyes. Sky Candy Aerial Arts reinvented the familiar story of a bleak, dystopian future through a combination of traditional theatrical story plots and their signature acts of impossible aerial artistry.
No matter which Sky Candy production you watch, you will typically end up jaw-on-the-floor amazed by what you see from the performers of Sky Candy. What these ladies and gents can do with their upper body strength is a testament to discipline and its relationship to the human body.
Wright defines her interpretation of The Time Machine as "minimalist steampunk," showing elements of the genre mostly in the costuming and environment that are appropriate to the novella's original time period.
Further, linking aerial art together with familiar literary source material is a unique endeavor that sets this East Austin performance studio apart from other new work theatre troupes in town.
Their latest production is directed by Sky Candy collective member Joanna Wright, who is both an experienced stage director and an accomplished aerialist. She stage managed both of last year's sold-out runs of the company's productions of The Red Shoes and has worked tirelessly ever since, preparing for this new offering opening April 20 at the Sky Candy studio.
"I have two main loves: physical theatre and aerial," Wright says. "I've been playing with and producing both of these two for years, figuring out how to combine them. This show is, in a way, my thesis project after studying the two for so long."
Wright defines her interpretation of The Time Machine as "minimalist steampunk," showing elements of the genre mostly in the costuming and environment that are appropriate to the novella's original time period. What you wouldn't expect, however, are martial artists, machete fighters and giant otherworldly puppets that bring the worlds of the Eloi and the Morlocks to vivid, original life.
"The story does stay true to the major elements of the book, but we used it more as a springboard for the eventual script," she explains. "I remember in my copy of The Time Machine, there was an Author's Note in the book that said, 'This is the work of a very young author and is not entirely finished.' I understood that to mean we had permission to build on it."
In playwright Danny Strack's new script, actors Aaron Alexander and Trey Deason serve as the primary protagonists, navigating through the new world (and underworld) after their fourth-dimension invention transports them 800,000 years into the future. There they encounter new races, envisioned through elegant movement, fully-imagined puppets and creative costuming.
Twenty performers play multiple roles throughout the show, climbing, tumbling and balancing through fantastical routines on the trapeze, silks, ropes, poles, swings and aerial cubes. Unlike their previous shows, the company has the benefit of performing in their newly renovated studio with all of their available apparatuses, and Wright assures us they are taking full advantage of that fact for this show.
"The cast is amazing; all of them are rock stars," laughs Wright when asked about the intensity of their rehearsal and performance schedules. "We've been doing two to three runs of the show per day for rehearsals, and they hardly ever complain."
Let the cast do all the hard work. You just have to sit back, relax, pick your jaw up off the floor and enjoy the ride. Just make sure to buy your tickets in advance as both runs of their last show sold out completely.
The Time Machine runs April 20 - 29 at the Sky Candy Studio Space at 7 and 10 p.m. most nights. Check the website for times and tickets. Bleacher seats are $25; floor seats are $15.