Women’s Issues at Center of Shelterbelt Theatre’s Latest Post-Apocalyptic Offering

Imagine a near post-apocalyptic future where women can detect when they are down to their last ovarian egg and have a government enforced time limit on when they can fertilize before the egg is destroyed.  That is the setting of Crystal Jackson’s play, The Singularity, being produced as the first of four plays The Shelterbelt Theatre offers for their 23rd season.

Playwright Crystal Jackson

Playwright Crystal Jackson

The Science Fiction story metaphorically centering on women’s issues is the start of an all-female written season.  The shows selected are in response to the national discussion of gender parity happening lately in theater circles.  Shelterbelt Theatre’s Artistic Director, Elizabeth Thompson, felt like the company was in a unique position to do something in favor of producing more female driven plays.

“I want to be part of the solution,” Thompson said, “versus contributing to either the problem, or the complaining.”

Thompson, who is also the director for The Singularity, promises audiences the show is something completely different, new and fresh.  This should surprise few given that the theatre’s main focus is producing new original work.

“We are the only theater company that is 100% reliant on the modern playwright and that makes me proud,” Thompson said.

The Singularity’s main character is 40 year old Astrid played by MaryBeth Adams who in an obstacle filled search to fertilize her last egg meets a young scientist played by Jon Roberson.  The scientist has stolen a box of dark matter, which Astrid decides to impregnate herself with.  Will Muller and Craid Bond round out the cast playing duel roles each.

Shelterbelt Artistic Director Elizabeth Thompson

Shelterbelt Artistic Director Elizabeth Thompson

They play up the Sci-Fi elements of the show, which Thompson thinks will play well given the Halloween season, but there is much more to the story. Thompson’s hope is that audiences leave the theatre wanting to have a discussion about what they just experienced and specifically about some of the ideas and themes that are discovered within the world of the play.

“Astrid’s search for a donor to fertilize her egg and the struggles she encounters are a giant metaphor for the current abortion conversation and where our society might be headed in relation to women’s health resources if we don’t stand up strong and tall for ourselves,” Thompson said.  “The piece as a whole reflects the idea of falling down, and hard, but more importantly what happens next and how the choice of getting up and moving forward can be the true reward. It is hopeful in a really messed up way.”

Out of the four shows this season, Thompson chose this play to direct because of a personal connection and affinity she had with the script.

“As a woman who is about to be in her late 30’s and has recently began thinking about becoming a mother, this play spoke volumes to me about a very personal and profound time in a woman’s life,” Thompson said.

Although there are 4 plays chosen for this season, the Shelterbelt Theatre board read through 40 submissions to get the number of hopefuls down to 11.  Those 11 plays are then sent to the non-board members, that are made up of actors and designers, and they come together to decide which scripts are the best fit for the season.

“Between the board and non-board members, we have made a pretty diverse group who could express the pros and cons of every aspect of each script,” Thompson said.

Thompson says that one of the main reasons The Singularity got her vote is because she had never seen this particular issue addressed on stage before and certainly not in this way.

The Singularity runs from October 2 -25 at The Shelterbelt Theater located at 3225 California Street at 8pm Thursday -Saturday; 6pm on Sundays.  The October 25 performance will be at 2pm. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for Student/Senior/TAG Members.

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