December 5-6, 2014: University Theater to present ‘A Steampunk Christmas Carol’

Alexander Samuels as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Image courtesy of University Theater.

Alexander Samuels as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Image courtesy of University Theater.

Youngstown State University’s Department of Theater and Dance announces that Penguin Playhouse and Alpha Psi Omega, University Theater’s student-run production arm, will perform “A Steampunk Christmas Carol,” adapted into a one-hour presentation by, and directed by Dr. Scott Irelan, chairman of the Department of Theater and Dance, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5 and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6 in Ford Theater.

While the story line and words follow the traditional Dickens’ version as a retelling of the classic novel about a Victorian-era miser taken on a journey of self-redemption, courtesy of several mysterious Christmas apparitions, the Steampunk genre has been adapted into the story line. “The words are largely Dickens. The designs by students, staff and faculty, though, are all Steampunk both in inspiration and in execution. The adaptation has been a collaboration between myself as the director, and students both in Script Analysis class last spring and those on the creative team now. The mashup will be fun,”said Irelan.

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes fictional works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used, usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain (think Industrial Revolution). It has prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, it often features anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them.

Based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc., this technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne or real technological developments like the computer. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” for such technology as dirigibles, analog computers or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage’s Analytical engine.

Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk. They have considerable influence on each other and share a similar fan base, but steampunk developed as a separate movement. Apart from time period and level of technology, the main difference is that steampunk settings tend to be less dystopian, or characterizing human misery. The BBC television program, “Dr. Who,” is a current steampunk-esque example.

Families are also invited to participate in holiday activities in the lobby provided by the Alpha Psi Omega and Penguin Playhouse students.

Students performing are: Claudia Gage (Poland, Ohio); Dylan Grinnell (Sharpsville, Pa.); Christopher Hager (Youngstown); Morgan Kirksey (Pittsburgh); Theresa Leonard (Youngstown); John Rusk (West Chester, Ohio); Alexander Samuels (Worthington, Ohio); and Ben Bogen (Canfield).

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for senior citizens, students and children. More information and reservations are available by calling the University Theater Box Office at 330-941-3105.

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