A pervasive thought among younger generations is this: what will the future look like in a world of unstoppable climate change? What will be the purpose of art and meaning-seeking? Will there be another world to save us — or is this it? For everything?
These existential questions, coupled with the enormous anxiety of forced isolation and a pandemic, have stirred interesting, disturbing, and complicated discussions about what really matters. Amidst all the chaos of 2020, NYU playwright and director Zoe Gray has created a moving work of art to facilitate these discussions.
Six Months to the New World is a stage play that’s been reformatted for a Zoom society. Four brilliant minds — a sociologist, an author, a musician, a documentarian — and their captain have been selected to embark on an intimate and claustrophobic voyage to a “new world” that hasn’t been ravaged by global warming. Each character brings their own philosophy into the gladiator’s arena of debate to duke it out and, in victory, establish a pioneering code of ethics on the new planet. But perhaps there is no dominant philosophy. Perhaps the highest value is that of collaboration.
Themes of collaboration shine in the plot and behind the scenes of this deeply thoughtful piece. Zoe Gray and Hope Cassandra have crafted a creative story and nurtured an environment of authenticity and camaraderie between the cast and crew. The joy and the pain all feel real, which is a tribute to the strong sense of earnestness cultivated among a tight team in logistically and emotionally complicated circumstances.
Beyond the compelling acting and writing, the technical feats of this piece are admirable. Though not a single cast or crew member shared physical space, each cue was perfectly synced. The team developed creative ways of working around the video conference setup to shape a cohesive environment of togetherness. The clever use of breakout rooms and off-screen gestures allows the viewer’s imagination to generate a stage with entrances, exits, and physical connection between the characters.
The emotional terrains traversed in this small slice of speculative science fiction transcend both screen and stage into the mythological halls of Story, seated squarely between living constellations and undefinable void. Each character evolves with each poignant conversation, and each light-year traveled away from earth brings them closer together.
NYU should be very proud to have each one of these talented individuals representing their school. What comes next for them — and for us — will be a brave new world of powerful theatre.
The final showing of this virtual masterpiece for the foreseeable future is Sunday, December 13 at 8:15 p.m. EST. Sign up for free tickets for here.