When I visited the Liverpool Archives of Science Fiction (which is co-incidentally, a fascinating resource, and would recommend those with a passion in the subject to visit it when you can), there were so many sources I wanted to look up – especially the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool and Ken Campbell’s legacy. I also wanted to read Samuel Delany’s article “Flow My Tears…: Theater and Science Fiction”; in Issue #1, NYSF September 1988 in its entirety – I’ve seen it quoted in Staging the Impossible: The Fantastic Mode in Modern Drama, where the following quotation is used:
…there are no closeups to convey the intricacy and coherence of detail that suggests the greater world outside the frame, the world beyond the proscenium. (p13)
However, it’s not all woe. This following statement from his article really echoes what theatre practitioners are doing (and have done) and that is using the medium to its strengths, rather than emulating film and television. We need production strategies specifically for genre theatre to get the best possible result:
When these problems are solved, the work will strike the knowledgeable as both more than SF and other than theatre – because the whole set of framing exceptional conventions will have to be largely adjusted…only then can a dramaturge really put his or her energy into them, the proper framing devices and imagistic modes in the pursuit of whatever scenic reality, that does not pull the material back into this old, old form. (p15)
Well said, Delany. We need to hold dialogues (which has been going on, but not nearly where it needs to be) on how this can be done, has been done, and will be done.
I had the fortune to find transcripts and so on of SF theatre that has gone on before, with examples of how, in my opinion, it should and shouldn’t be done. Stay tuned!