Prepare for adventure as the Brigham Young University Department of Theatre and Media Arts celebrates the 50th anniversary of Madeleine L'Engle's classic novel "A Wrinkle in Time" with an all-new stage adaptation.
Focused on the incredible power of childhood creativity, the show is performed as if being presented by children, and it is set as a thrust performance on the stage of the de Jong Concert Hall at BYU, allowing audience members to be engaged on three sides of the performers.
Under the direction of BYU faculty member Rodger Sorensen, the BYU production of "A Wrinkle in Time" still carries powerful messages about faith, love and the importance of family, all while inviting audiences to dig a little deeper and allow their imaginations to take flight.
"Our approach to the production itself is quite unique," Sorensen said. "There's a quote I use in my program note taken from Friedrich Nietzsche which says, 'Man's maturity: To have regained the seriousness that he had as a child at play.' We, as a production, are working to create a space where we are imaginatively creating this journey that these children go on, and (are) inviting the audience to go on it with us -- asking them to suspend their own disbelief and journey with us."
According to Sorensen, the fact that the show is performed as if by young neighborhood friends and children is just one aspect of the creativity involved. All props, set and costumes were created from found objects and require a touch of imagination to bring to life.
Collaboration and creativity form the foundation of the show's direction and production.
"We are approaching it from the completely collaborative idea that anyone who is participating can make comments on any parts of the show, and that their ideas will be listened to and respected," he said. "We make decisions to use those ideas or not collaboratively. ... The company pretty much decides what we want to work on when and how. It's an exploration. This show has creativity and invites people to bring their own creativity to the show."
Sorensen said that despite the unique take on the production, one thing audience members can count on is that the show is true to the original story.
"We have kept the storyline intact and it feels to me that we have stayed very true to her work," he said. "It has values, values that resonate with LDS culture and Christian culture. Values we commend within the mission of this institution. The characters are wonderful, it's fun and it's a work that has shaped people's thoughts and lives for a long time. ... For more than 40 years it has shaped people's thoughts and been a part of how they think about life, and it's still very relevant to today."
The story of "A Wrinkle in Time" centers around the Murry family, especially young Meg and Charles, as well as their friend, Calvin O'Keefe. In an attempt to save their father, who has gotten lost while experimenting with time travel, the trio must journey through the universe and harness the power of love to defeat the forces of evil that try to overcome them.
"Calvin O'Keefe is an older boy from school that becomes friends with Charles and his sister Meg then gets toted along for the ride across the galaxy and universe," said Logan Hayden, who portrays Calvin in the show. "He doesn't know what's going on at first and he and Meg are both kind of shocked by what they see, but he's there to support Meg and becomes a part of the family eventually."
Hayden, who is studying scenic design as a part of the theater department at BYU, was enlisted into the show after production began. He was invited to read the script to see what he thought and said he instantly fell in love with the story and the ideas behind it, joining the show both as Calvin and as a scenic designer.
Hayden said one of the best things about the production setup is the opportunity it provides to work closely with so many individuals.
"You have to realize that perhaps your first reaction isn't going to be the best one and that you can turn to your fellow actors," he said. "Being able to have that discussion actor to actor helps me understand my character better and helps me make better choices in how I portray my character."
With such a creative foundation, Hayden said above all he hopes audiences can take something good away from the production.
"I don't know if people would come expecting something they've already seen before, but it's going to be unlike anything they've seen," he said. "It's a new experience and I hope any audience member can come look at it with a creative eye or just appreciate it for what it is. ... Imagination and creativity is not something we should shy away from but something we should embrace and seek out. Things aren't always as we think they are, and if an audience member were to feel a renewed desire for imagination and creativity in their lives, that would make me really happy."