Apollo Opening Night at Portland Center Stage | January 17

Apollo opens tomorrow night at Portland Center stage. If the mixing of Nazis, the space-race, and the civil rights movement doesn't pique your interest (what's wrong with you?), how about this bit of strangeness for Saturday's performance:

Normally, Portland Center Stage has a strict no cell phone in the theater policy.

But we thought that the deconstructed, multi-media rich experience of our World Premiere production of Apollo would be the perfect opportunity for our first experiment in blog- and twitter-friendly performance.

You can read more about this on the Mercury's Blogtown. Pipeline will be there “tweeting” this event as “authorized twitterers and bloggers”. You can follow this whole thing on twitter using this #Apollo tag (and for some reason, Germans seem to like this tag as well). If there are drinks and free food, I'm sure we will let you know as well.

From Portland Center Stage:
Apollo, Portland, Center Stage

NOVEMBER 10, 2008 — PORTLAND, OR. Award winning playwright/director Nancy Keystone explodes the myths that brought us to this present moment in the world premiere of Apollo, her epic multi-media exploration of the space race, its employment of former-Nazi scientists and its surprising intersection with the civil rights movement.

Inspired by a 1990 LA Times article about former-Nazi rocket scientist (and huge Apollo contributor) Arthur Rudolph, Apollo dives down the rabbit hole of America's race into space, seeking the strange truths, fascinating personalities and unforgivable compromises behind "the pinnacle of human achievement and progress" that was our trip to the moon. Part performance art and part deconstructed documentary, Apollo breaks our quest for progress down into three acts. The first two acts premiered at Center Theater Group's Kirk Douglas Theater under the title Apollo [Part 1]: Lebensraum and won Garland Awards for Playwriting, Sound Design and Lighting Design, plus Backstage West Picks for Best Production, Directing, Ensemble, Scenic Design and Video Design.

Apollo Gala Opening Night Performance on Friday January 17th, 2009. The production will run Tuesday through Sunday through February 8th, with 7:30 pm evening performances Tuesday through Saturday and matinee performances at 2 pm on Sundays. There are alternating Sunday evening and Saturday 2:00 pm matinee performances, plus weekday matinee performances at noon on Thursdays. Go to www.pcs.org/apollo for a complete list of show times. Tickets range from $30.00 to $66.50, with Student and Rush tickets available. Tickets can be purchased through the box office by calling 503.445.3700 or online at www.pcs.org.

The Show:

Part 1 [Lebensraum] explores the relationship of Nazi scientists to the U.S. Space Program; the contrast between America's "innocent" love affair with technology and spaceflight, and the decidedly less innocent development of that rocket technology in Nazi Germany's slave labor camps during WWI. A bright gold fantasia of rocket history, Part one follows Wernher von Braun, the boy wonder of rockets, who suavely sells the same bill of goods consecutively to Hitler, Walt Disney, President Kennedy and the Ladies Home Journal.

In Part 2 [Gravity], the shiny, happy surface of Part 1 is pulled away to expose the underbelly of that same history through the experiences of Arthur Rudolph. Once the top project manager for the Apollo rocket program, Rudolph eventually renounces his U.S. citizenship after an investigation by Nazi-hunter Eli Rosenbaum, who uncovers Rudolph's involvement with Mittelwerk, Nazi Germany's secret underground rocket factory manned entirely by concentration camp labor. Three thousand file boxes on stage shift throughout the act, spewing strange secrets and obscuring uncomfortable truths about the costs of human aspiration and progress.

Part 3 [Liberation] flashes forward to 1960s Alabama, where the seemingly impossible quest to get to the moon collides with the equally impossible quest to integrate a lunch counter. Amidst Alabama Governor George Wallace's cries of "segregation now, segregation forever" we watch David McCadden, an avid young astronomer and space enthusiast become the first black student to integrate the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Meanwhile von Braun, who once used concentration camp labor to research and build his rockets, now uses TV shows by Walt Disney to help convince a state torn by racial tensions that its best interests lie in burying the segregationist sentiments of the past to make way for a shinier future in space.

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