Theater Around The Bay: Theatre of the Nerd

Sam Tillis announces a new addition to the Bay Area theater community.

By any objective measure, the Bay Area is positively overrun with theatre companies. Theatre Bay Area’s website lists 310 separate member groups, and while some of those may be defunct, there are undoubtably many other troupes in the area which have chosen not to list on that site. On Friday night, when I was watching The Rover at Shotgun, I could have been seeing Berkeley Rep’s Pirates of Penzance, Aurora’s The Monster-Builder– and those two were within walking distance from where I was– one of three possible shows at the EXIT Theatre, probably two or three options at PianoFight, and countless other live performances I couldn’t begin to catalogue. Given all this, starting a new theatre company, in this place and at this time, would seem to be indicative of pure insanity.

So why am I doing just that?

The idea first came to me, about a year ago, when I started wondering why there didn’t seem to be any plays about time travel. I was acting in a theatrical adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five at the time, and while that play has time travel as an element, it struck me that I had never seen nor heard of a play rooted firmly in the conventions of the classic time travel story, even though those conventions (branching timelines, paradoxes, and so on) have served as the basis for countless films, TV episodes, novels, and stories. A time travel story should be eminently stageable, since jumps in time would presumably be more important than jumps in locale, and could be quite appealing in terms of plot and theme. And yet, there existed this absence.

The thought branched out. Where were the plays set on space ships? Where was the urban fantasy, the Lovecraftian horror? The interplanetary romance, the post-apocalyptic survival story, the steampunk adventure, the quasi-medieval quest? Where, in short, was the nerdy stuff?

There isn’t a complete absence of nerd theatre, of course. The Bay Area theatre scene is robust and diverse, with offerings catered to a variety of tastes, including those that slant towards the Star Wars end of the spectrum. Just this week, I can watch In Love and Warcraft at Custom Made Theatre or the one-woman Nerd Nation at the EXIT. Wily West Productions did extraterrestrial colonization and psychological horror in rep this past summer and a superhero festival the summer before. And I’m sure there are others that I haven’t even heard of.

That being said, I want there to be a space that focuses specifically on the sorts of stories that can be told within the geekier genres. And, as the motivational posters on my highschool teachers’ classroom walls encouraged, I have decided to be the change I want to see in the world.

So: I’m pleased to announce Quantum Dragon Theatre, the Bay Area’s first and foremost science-fiction/fantasy theatre company.

I use the phrase ‘science-fiction/fantasy theatre company’ inclusively; rather than excluding edge cases from consideration, I hope to incorporate all of what makes up what we might call nerd culture. By focusing on these genres, we can ask the same question that all plays ask– what does it mean to be human?– in exciting new ways. And we can bring in new audiences, people who may feel that most live theatre is not relevant to their interests and lives. Those are the people I want to reach, along with the steadfast Bay Area audiences who may just discover the budding nerd within.

It’s possible you’ve heard of Quantum Dragon Theatre (QDT, among friends) already. Likely, even, if we’re Facebook friends or if you’ve had the misfortune of being somewhere within earshot of me within the last eight months– I talk about it a lot. The reason I’m (re)announcing it now is that the pedal has hit the metal. We have a season of three phenomenal plays– the first one, a courtroom drama set entirely within a virtual reality in a dystopian future, is nearly cast and will be going up this March. We have a program in the works designed to foster the creation new sci-fi/fantasy plays. And, right now, we have a fundraising campaign live on Indiegogo.

Yes, I know, you’ve heard this part before. You know that theatre cannot live on ticket sales alone, that it needs contributions from passionate supporters like yourself. You know that even small contributions can make a big difference. You know that we would be massively grateful for your involvement.

But, even if the Indiegogo fatigue is strong in you, I ask you to check out our campaign. We’ve got a fun video, some outside-of-the-box rewards, and, most importantly, an opportunity to help the Bay Area get its nerd on.