Lights up on a world 10,000 years in the future. A distant planet where colonization has tried and failed, once again. The humans have either moved on or merged with the creatures, tech and detritus of the planet, and things are changing fast. How do a walrus, a bacteria, a blackberry, a quasar, a whale, an angel, a mutant mushroom, and a sentient microphone communicate, get along, care for themselves and one another amidst planetary upheaval? They discuss, dance, listen, make decisions, try, fail, let go, and learn with love. It’s Other Orbits.
Applied Mechanics always begins the process of making a show with a question. When Other Orbits began development in 2019, we came to the room with shared questions about what it means to be in a position of middle management: that is, how do we care for ourselves, our elders, and the youth in a world that is rapidly changing? We had just finished an in-person workshop in March 2020 when the global shutdown began. With our research on change and care still ringing in our ears, we watched as familiar systems, dynamics, and relationships of all kinds shifted, suspended, evolved. Our world was also rapidly changing. As the pandemic progressed, we asked ourselves and our collaborators if the work of Other Orbits was still work we wanted to do. Could we continue in this line of inquiry about care and transformation in a world turned upside down and inside out? The resounding answer both then and now is yes.
So the process moved forward. We showed up on zoom, and on each other's doorsteps. We dreamed of a world in the future and we schemed up different ways to exist in that world together. The world of Other Orbits became increasingly sci-fi, epic, fantastical, camp and utopian. We created characters on a whole other planet and let them speak for themselves. We explored their myths and their histories. We wrote their lore and recorded their songs.
Applied Mechanics has always created immersive, installation productions. The global shutdown supported our already burgeoning interest in exploding the boundaries of immersive art experiences, and exploring ways that a show can surround you at home. We have created 6 immersive episodes of Other Orbits to date, each helmed by a rotating group of lead artists, writing teams, and designers. Over the past 2 years we have created: a podcast of the radio stations of the planet, an interactive time capsule, an activity packet for young people and their caregivers (in the spirit of an alien Highlights Magazine,) a tabletop board game, an album of interstellar hits from synthpop to gogo, and an episode of an alien reality TV show. This July, at long last, the final eponymous episode of Other Orbits will premiere as a piece of live, immersive, parallel narrative theater.
Yeah! We said it–Live theater with real actors in real time. Immersive, this piece busts out of the proscenium in a large scale art installation that surrounds you, the audience. You get to choose, you can sit in one place or follow the characters as they journey through space…and time. Speaking of time, this piece exists in parallel narratives, you know what that means, simultaneous storylines, so if you want to know everything about the world you might have to come multiple times. Don’t worry Applied Mechanics has got you covered. The journey to bring Other Orbits to life has been ecstatic, humbling, joyful, and uncanny. We are so excited to share this world we’ve built so lovingly in the form that we know best: a play.