Sunday, November 19 , 2017, 3:15 am | Fair 42º

Posted on February 26, 2017 | 9:00 a.m.

‘Mr. Burns’: The Simpsons in a Post-Apocalyptic Society

Source: Una Mladenovic for UCSB Department of Theater/Dance

The UCSB Department of Theater and Dance is back with its latest production, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn, in the Studio Theater March 4–12.

As part of the 2016-17 season, Mr. Burns brings a self-reflexive perspective to the stage by commenting on popular culture and what it means to have live theater as part of a society.

In a play essentially about survival, eight actors come together to tell a story that speaks to the uncertain nature of the future and human survival mechanisms.

“The archetypical conflicts of survival carry us down the River of Time,” said director Tom Whitaker. “Washburn’s play is kind of like a cultural/anthropological dig.”

Told in three acts, the story honors current popular cultures while honoring tradition by bringing theater back to its ancient Greek roots. Ultimately, the play poses the questions of what will endure when the cataclysm arrives — when the grid fails, society crumbles, and we’re faced with the task of rebuilding.

Asked why he chose Mr. Burns, Whitaker said, “It has everything: singing, dancing and an amazing narrative journey. It boldly takes an audience from a nearly familiar place to the far future, a sort of new theater and finally the ritual organs of theater itself.”

A hymn to live theater and the resilience of pop culture through the ages, Mr. Burns is a theatrical exploration of how the pop culture of one era might evolve into the mythology of another.

As a collaborative production, the story comes to life with the combination of live music orchestrated by Jon Nathan, costumes by Lara De Bruijn, lighting by Michael Klaers, set design by Shaun Motley, and choreography by Christina McCarthy, all working to find a unique style for the show.

About the actors, Whitaker said: “It’s a terrific cast. All are great singers and strong actors. The play is largely about community, and the actors have formed a very strong ensemble.”

Performance dates and times are: 8 p.m. March 4, 2 p.m. March 5, 8 p.m. March 7-11, and 2 p.m. March 11-12.

Tickets are $17 general admission and $13 for UCSB student/faculty/staff/alumni/general student/senior/child.

For tickets and more information, visit

— Una Mladenovic for UCSB Department of Theater/Dance.

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