Atomic Fission Tour | 2006

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Stuff that Happens
Stuff that happens before the play
  • On a stormy night, mad scientist Doctor Prospero works in his laboratory developing the elusive formula with which he would change the world, aided only by his wife, Gloria.
  • Gloria overpowers an unsuspecting Prospero and sends him into hyperspace in an old shuttlecraft. Unbeknownst to Gloria, their infant daughter Miranda is asleep aboard the shuttlecraft, and is catapulted into space with her father.
Stuff that happens in the play
  • Many years later, the Intergalactic Starship Albatross takes off on a routine scientific survey flight under the watchful command of Captain Tempest.
  • Aboard this flight is the new Science Officer, a strong willed woman with a mysterious past.
  • Also on board are the Damage Control Crew, Bosun Arras (an all around good guy), the Navigation Officer (who knows where they are going), and Cookie (the ship’s cook, a hopeless romantic).
  • As the starship blasts its way through space, it encounters an asteroid storm and the Science Officer flees, taking the only emergency shuttlecraft.
  • Meanwhile, the Albatross is pulled inexorably towards Planet D’Illyria, which is not marked on their charts.
  • Adventure, romance, and rock & roll ensue.
Notes from the Director
a cheesy masterpiece
the timeline

1609ish Shakespeare writes his final solo play, The Tempest.
1956 Director Fred Wilcox introduces the universe to Robby the Robot in a science fiction film loosely based on The Tempest, called Forbidden Planet.
1957 Otis Blackwell writes “Great Balls of Fire,” which Jerry Lee Lewis records at Sun Studios.
1957 Dick Clark’s American Bandstand begins its 33-year mission to give kids of all ages a beat they can dance to.
1960 Roy Orbison creates “Only the Lonely,” an anthem and a lament for the loser in all of us.
1966 Brian Wilson’s genius gives birth to “Good Vibrations,” the final track of his abandoned epic SMiLE.
1966 The show Gene Roddenberry once pitched as Wagon Train to the Stars, now called Star Trek, finally debuts on national television.
1985 Bob Carlton amalgamates all of the above to create and direct a cult hit (under a traveling tent in London) called Return to the Forbidden Planet.

the skinny on the cheese

Bob Carlton is NOT related to Atomic Fission Tour actor Daniel Carlton; we did, however, reverently refer to our esteemed playwright as Uncle Bob during rehearsals. Uncle Bob created a cheesy masterpiece.

Planet is simultaneously a: play, Shakespeare review, musical cabaret, science fiction spoof, Shakespeare spoof, musical spoof, and rock concert to boot. Uncle Bob starts with the same premise Wilcox used for his film: “let’s do The Tempest in outer space, sort of.” In both Planet stories, we have Doctor Prospero as a mad scientist; Miranda as his daughter who has been raised in an isolated environment, and a robot created by the doctor (Wilcox calls his Robby, Uncle Bob calls his Ariel). Uncle Bob takes this Tempest-in-outer-space premise and immediately adds both literary and whacky dimensions not found in the film by making ninety-five percent of the dialogue Shakespeare (or riffs off Shakespeare lines we affectionately refer to as “Makespeare”).

Our Assistant Director and Troupe Manager (and crack research department of one), Carie Donnelson, puts the Shakespeare count at fifteen plays and two sonnets from which Uncle Bob created such intergalactic gems as:

Two parents, both alike in dignity
In outer space, where we our play locate.
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
And on Forbidden Planet meet their fate.


NAVIGATION OFFICER: But hold, I think I have another beep [on my scanner screen].
CAPTAIN: A second beep?:
NAVIGATION OFFICER: Well, I’m not really sure.
CAPTAIN: Two beeps, or not two beeps?
NAVIGATION OFFICER: That is the question.

But doing a sort-of-Tempest in outer space using mostly lines from all over the Bard’s canon wasn’t enough for our Uncle Bob. He takes this sci-fi Shakespeare concoction and then mixes in pop songs from the 50’s and 60’s at strategic spots that actually further to his unhinged narrative. As the space ship dodges flaming
asteroids, the crew breaks into Great Balls of Fire; when Miranda falls for Captain Tempest and her father speaks harshly to her, she expresses her emotional state with Teenager in Love. So the play truly becomes a rock and roll Shakespeare musical in outer space. And if all of the above isn’t enough to make your head spin in delight and wonder, this musical was originally designed for the actors to be the musicians while they play and sing onstage for the whole show.

But, we have taken crazy Uncle Bob’s musical fantasy and added a few more layers that we think nobody else has done since he created the show. We’re doing every piece of music live onstage with ACOUSTIC instruments, without electronic special effects (or microphones) as we leave the lights on the audience and make them a literal part of this adventure. And we’re not talking about acoustic guitars hooked up to amplifiers and wired into effects boxes; we’re playing a cello, a banjo, a mandolin, two trumpets, an acoustic bass, bongo drums, a cheese grater, and many truly acoustic guitars. Every actor plays at least two instruments and sings.

Finally, we are first and foremost a Shakespeare troupe. So we hope that we are delivering the Shakespeare lines in this play with the complete justice they deserve. We’re not afraid to poke fun at Shakespeare (or musicals or Star Trek or rock and roll clichés) but we also hope that we can really use the Shakespeare (and Makespeare) Uncle Bob has given us to take you on a “routine scientific survey flight” you will never forget. Thanks for coming. Enjoy the ride. Ah-1-2-3-4…