by E.M. Lewis
Originally produced at Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland, OR
January 20 to February 18, 2018

About the Premiere Production:

Synopsis: In 1985, scientists and engineers from around the world converge at the South Pole Research Station to figure out, among other things, if there really is a hole in the sky. In the darkest, coldest, most dangerous place on Earth, eight imperfect souls are trapped together. Utterly isolated from the outside world for eight and a half months, this research team must face life or death challenges, their own inner demons and depend upon each other for survival.

With epic scope in the tradition of The Kentucky Cycle or Angels in America, this play takes its inspiration from the true story of the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer at the height of the Cold War. Part historical adventure, love story and mystical foray into the unknown, it’s about a world that can either tear apart or come together for its own survival. It’s a vital story for today and an extraordinary excursion for audiences to the end of the Earth.

Artistic Statement: Magellanica is extraordinary on several fronts: First, it creates a world in which science, global politics, and the pursuit of truth – even extremely inconvenient truth – are explored by characters we emotionally invest in deeply. Second, Ellen Lewis does not shy away from characters, story, or ideas that demand attention and focus, and at 5+ hours, the play allows for a level of complexity rarely seen on stage anymore. Third, each of the five acts has a distinct style and theatrical engine to refresh and propel the audience’s experience. For us, grappling with this unapologetically smart and theatrically complicated play is an artistic challenge that we relish.

Grant Statement: Because of the scale of the piece, additional rehearsal time is absolutely necessary, so we are nearly doubling our usual rehearsal period. In addition, many of the characters are fluent in other languages – Russian, Norwegian, Mandarin Chinese, and Bulgarian – so actors will be working with language coaches even before rehearsals begin. In addition, the production’s design will require extensive projection design to express not only the world of Antarctica but also a ‘new and more accurate map of the world’ which is a central metaphor of the play, one which ultimately envelops the entire theatre space. Funds from The Edgerton Foundation will be used to make all of these things possible and so much more.

Director: Dámaso Rodríguez
Set Designer: Stephanie Kerley Schwartz
Lighting Designer: Carl Faber
Costume Designer: Bobby Brewer-Wallin
Sound Designer:Rodolfo Ortega
Props Master:Robert Amico
Fight Choreographer:Jonathan Cole
Assistant Director:Tamera Lyn
Voice & Text Coach: Mary McDonald-Lewis
Dramaturg:Luan Schooler
Stage Manager: Jamie Lynne Simons
Projection Designer: Megan Wilkerson
Cast: Sara Hennessy, Michael Mendelson, Allen Nause, Eric Pargac, John San Nicolas, Vin Shambry, Joshua J. Weinstein, Barbie Wu

Additional funders: Oregon Community Foundation Creative Heights Award, The Kinsman Foundation, Karl & Linda Boekelheide, Steve Fenwick & Martha Wilson

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