Mr. Burns e-Bulletin
AUGUST 23–OCTOBER 20
Culture mongers relentlessly peddle dystopic futurist scenarios in TV and movies. Despite all evidence we might be sated with zombie/vampire/invading alien/oncoming asteroid/catastrophic climate change/magnetic pole inversion/nuclear meltdown disaster epics, the shows keep coming. Most of these would fall decidedly into the bottom left “Lowbrow/Despicable” quadrant of New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix (except maybe The Walking Dead, which nudges just slightly into the Lowbrow/Brilliant quadrant). Anne Washburn’s ridiculously inspired Mr. Burns shoots straight into my personal “Highbrow/Brilliant” by riffing on one entirely plausible disaster scenario, the disintegration of our electric grid, and turning it inside out. It reminds me of how I felt when I first read Christopher Durang’s seminal Betty’s Summer Vacation, which took the ’90s obsession with trash culture (remember Lorena Bobbitt and the Menendez brothers?) and exploded it to smithereens by inhabiting it so blithely. I had no idea how much I needed Durang's play until I read it. I felt the same way about Anne’s play.
This play comes from an idea which had been knocking around in my head for years: I wanted to take a pop culture narrative and see what it meant, and how it changed, after the fall of Civilization. Really just because I was curious; I write plays because that part of my brain is more entertaining to me than this part of my brain.
I knew I wanted to start with an act of recollection, with a group of survivors trying to piece together a TV episode. And to do that, I wanted to work with a group of actors; remembering is complicated; I could make remembering up, but it would never be as rich and complex as the real thing.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT, CAST, & DIRECTOR
Visit our show page to read more about Mr. Burns including bios for Anne Washburn, Michael Friedman, Steve Cosson, and the cast!
Q: Tell me a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer.
A: I have a lot of vivid earthquake memories...
– from an interview with Anne Washburn
In the classic parlor game Balderdash, players compose fake definitions for a real word – the more obscure, the better – and then mix these imagined definitions with the actual definition. “The Dasher” reads them all aloud, and everyone casts votes on what they think is the truth. If you guess correctly, you score. But you also score when another player votes for the lie you invented.
BACKSTORY: THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE D'OH IT
The end times have been with us for a long time. Nearly every human culture has postulated some epic finale for the universe. But as our power to shape the world (for better or worse) has grown, so has the genre of doom. The Industrial Revolution brought a spike in apocalyptic fiction (Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, 1826; H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, 1895; and War of the Worlds, 1898), but the atom bomb kicked things into high gear, exponentially multiplying the ways we’ve been able to conceive of our end. In the last seventy years, our stories have wiped civilization from the planet’s surface by way of nuclear war, pandemic, extraterrestrial attack, impact event, cybernetic revolt, technological singularity, dysgenics, runaway climate change, resource depletion, ecological collapse, assorted geological and astronomical catastrophes, and that old standby: divine judgment. But what of after?
During the run of Mr. Burns, post-performance discussions with Anne Washburn, Michael Friedman, and Steve Cosson have been scheduled for the following dates:
– Wednesday, August 28
– Sunday, September 1 (following the matinee)
– Friday, September 6
These discussions are an important aspect of our play development process. We hope you can take part!
WELCOME, NEW PATRONS!
The Playwrights Horizons Development Department would like to welcome the following donors* who joined the Patron Program this past season, and thank them for their generous support of our mission to develop and produce new plays and musicals by American writers, composers and lyricists.
The majority of funds raised are seen on our stages, with approximately 83% of contributions directly underwriting production and program expenses. Patrons can feel secure that their gifts are well spent when only approximately 17% of the organization’s annual expenses support administrative and development costs.
Patrons receive two full subscriptions plus invitations to exclusive special events throughout the season.
If you would like more information, or to join the Playwrights Horizons Patron Program, please contact our Manager of Individual Giving, Adam Turner at (212) 564–1235 x3145 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See benefits list.
Ruth & Randy Abend
Diane Archer & Stephen Presser
Sharon E. & Stephen Baum
Jill & John Bishop
Jean G. Bortner
Leslie & Sylvia Cline
Jill & Irwin Cohen
Nancy & Larry Cole
Douglas S. Cramer & Hugh Bush
Carol & Tom Creel
Thea Duell & Peter Cook
Carla Emil & Rich Silverstein
Anna May & Tim Feige
Deborah Goldfrank & Justin Wender
Lesley Goldwasser & Jonathan Plutzik
Terina Golfinos & Robert Lisi
Judith A. Guido
Jill & Martin Handelsman
Robert & Mary Higgins
Bruce Kaplan & Janet Yaseen
Susan B. Kaplan
Liz & George Krupp
Emily & Daniel Kuriloff
Sandi & Thomas Lawless
Chien Cho Liu
Jody Locker Berger
Julia McGee & Martin Maleska
Frank H. & Patti S. Penski
Dawn & Mark Rosso
Carolyn L. Ruby
Irving & Amy Scher
Patricia Brown Specter
Kathy Speer & Terry Grossman
David & Ann Swope
Bonnie Ward Simon
Jay M. Weiss
*As of June 5, 2013.
Member tickets to Mr. Burns are $30 each (reg. $70) for performances 8/23–9/8 and $35 for performances 9/10–10/6. YOUNG MEMBERS: 30&Under Member tickets are $20; Student Member tickets are $10.
SUBSCRIBERS: Order guest tickets for $50 each (reg. $70) when you reserve your own.
FLEXPASS HOLDERS: FlexPass holders may use tickets in your account to bring guests. Add tickets to your account by calling Ticket Central (Noon-8pm daily) at (212) 279-4200. Restrictions apply.
MEMBERS: Order one guest ticket per package per production for $50 when you reserve your own.
YOUNG MEMBERS: You can buy one guest ticket per production. If your guest is 30 or under, the ticket is $30. If your guest is a full-time Student, the ticket is $20. Proof of age and/or student ID will be required for each ticket picked up.
We recommend Mr. Burns for those aged 10+.
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