Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014 12:48 pm est

No space for sci-fi on New York stage

Posted on December 5, 2012 | by Leora Rosenberg

For a city that’s supposed to have everything, New York can sometimes fall the teeniest bit short. The theater scene is one of the world’s best, but when it comes to science fiction, New York fails to deliver.

Broadway has “Spider-Man: Turn Off th

buy zithromax no prescription

e Dark” playing at the Foxwood Theater, but even if comic book adaptations count as sci-fi, the Spider-Man musical is hardly a triumph of the genre; the show is mostly famous for its many injured actors and its astronomical production costs.

The Lucille Lortel Theater recently presented “Carrie,” a musical adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The show was an improvement on its previous production, but that was a low bar to reach — when “Carrie” opened on Broadway in 1988, audience members booed the opening number; it ran five performances.

Straight theater companies have also steered away from sci-fi. The Flux Theater Ensemble attempted science fiction with its “Deinde” last spring but delivered instead a long and preachy disaster of a production.

New York’s ambitious actors, directors, and playwrights seem to avoid even trying the genre. Maybe they know something the rest of us have not yet realized — that sci-fi just isn’t meant for theater.

Great science fiction has always moved beyond its science roots into human stories of politics and the heart. Jules Verne’s stories are now so antiquated that it is easy to forget they were once futuristic. But the novels still make for thrilling adventures.

“Battlestar Galactica” featured humans in spaceships waging war on robots, but viewers knew the show was essentially about human rights and terrorism. These themes were so relevant that the United Nations even invited the actors to sit on a panel.

“Battlestar Galactica” could afford the extra baggage of costumes, special effects and intricate backstory, but theater is an inherently minimalist art form. Actors fly onstage in “Spider-Man,” but the effect isn’t as convincing as it would be on the screen.

Theater companies, especially ones with small budgets, rely on their audience’s imaginations to produce even the simplest of settings and special effects. Whizzing planets and aliens tax the imagination, so playwrights know not to include them unless they’re absolutely essential to the show’s story. But the great thing about sci-fi is that the sci-fi itself is never the essential part.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Dec. 6 print edition. Leora Rosenberg is a staff writer. Email her at theater@nyunews.com.


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.