Man, Machine Mix in ‘Comic Potential’

Maverick Theatre Company's "Comic Potential" stars (from left) Emily Burgardt, C.C. Weatherly and Michael Carver-Simmons. (Photo by Michelle Harvey)
Maverick Theatre Company’s “Comic Potential” stars (from left) Emily Burgardt, C.C. Weatherly and Michael Carver-Simmons. (Photo by Michelle Harvey)

Questions about comedy, love and what it means to be human abound in the Maverick Theatre Company’s new play, “Comic Potential.”

The comedy, which runs Oct. 15-19, will be held on the Department of Theatre Arts’ Mainstage Theatre in the Fine Arts Building. The play, directed by Associate Professor Dennis Maher, centers on artificial life forms, or “actoids,” and how these androids interact with humans.

“Science fiction is not commonplace on a theatrical stage,” Maher said, “but it’s one of the things we wanted to tackle. As soon as our designers read the script, they exploded with ideas and creativity. It’s way outside of the box from what they usually do.”

The play, by English playwright Alan Ayckbourn, is set in the near-future, where actoids have replaced human actors. Theatre Arts major C.C. Weatherly plays JCF31-333 or “Jacie,” an actoid who has malfunctioned by developing a sense of humor. The production also stars Blake Rice, Michael Carver-Simmons, Chloe Lewis, Bentleigh Nesbit, Emily Burgardt, Kevin Nguyen, Gatlin Douglas, Caleb Hall, Andrew Beckman Terry Gray, Stephanie Spencer and Chelsea Hollenbeck.

Maher said his actors were challenged to ignore a natural tendency to act robotically during the performance. His crew took notes from characters in film and television, including Data on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

“They’re having a really good time,” he said of his cast. “They have been putting little moves and nuances in the performances to let the audience know there’s a little more machine than human in there.”

Other production credits include Daniel Archibald as Technical Director, Laurie Land as Costume Designer, Jared Land as Sound Designer, and Joe Kongevick as Make-Up Designer. Stage Manager is Whitley White-Body.

“Comic Potential” begins at 8 p.m. Oct. 15-18 and at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 19. Tickets are $10 for general public, and $7 for senior citizens, students, and UT Arlington faculty and staff.  For tickets/reservations, group rates, or further information, please contact the UT Arlington Department of Theatre Arts Box Office at (817) 272-2669 or uta.edu/theatre.

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(By James Dunning, COLA Communications / jdunning@uta.edu)

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