Sunday, May 19, 2024

SUNY Theatre Department’s outer space devised piece is out of this world

“this is how we walk on the moon” derives its title from a song by the late cellist and electronic artist Arthur Russell whose music explored aspects of yearning.


By Robin Caudell (Press-Republican)

Cosmic dust. Space dust. Star dust. Dust to dust.

All of this and more are kinetically conceptualized and illuminated in SUNY Plattsburgh Department of Theatre’s production, “this is how we walk on the moon,” an original theatre performance, at the Black Box Studio Theatre in the John Myers Building.

Today through Saturday, catch a performance and explore outer space, astronauts, and a trip to the moon and beyond in preparation for the cosmic event of a lifetime: The Great Eclipse of 2024.

The performance features a geodesic climbing dome, lights, video and projections. The audience will also receive special glasses and light works to really experience the production.

“When I learned Plattsburgh would be in the line of totality for the upcoming Total Eclipse, I knew I had to respond with a theatrical experience to herald its arrival,” Julia Devine, director/conceiver and SUNY Plattsburgh lecturer of theatre, said.

“’this is how we walk on the moon’ derives its title from a song by the late cellist and electronic artist Arthur Russell whose music explored aspects of yearning much like this production does.”

The performance is completely original and co-created with students. In original or “devised” theatre, there is no beginning script. What’s created can be instigated by a line of poetry, a song, a painting, or, in this case, a geodesic climbing dome.



Senior Kaleb Pecoraro is the production designer for ‘this is how we walk on the moon,” and designed the lighting, projections, the setting, and the sound system.

“I am an interdisciplinary studies student between both theatre and robotics. I’m not a performer, so I took the acting out of the theatre major and filled it in with robotics to give me the more technical skills. The highlight of the design for this show is the dome. The dome is a geodesic climbing structure that was in our director’s back yard. We took it into our shop and painted it grey. We also made a fabric cover for the dome to project on to. We have three projectors aimed at the dome that sync together and show images and videos throughout the show. This is the most technically challenging show I have ever worked on. It is all coming together as planned and I am very excited to share it with the community.”

For Jessica Rigby, a senior and theatre major, this is the second time around working on a devised piece at the college.

“I am finding that this is one of my favorite forms of theatre because of the creative freedom it allows as well as the ability to step outside of the norm. I am honored to be involved in this show in particular as it is overflowing with a wide array of artistic expression. The cast and crew for this show have surpassed my expectations of what could be created in the short time we have had, and I feel incredibly lucky be involved in this amazing culmination of so many talented people working together.”

Lorenzo Johnson is a senior double majoring in both theater and graphic design.

“I’m currently one of the actors in the production ‘this is how we walk on the moon,’ and I’m so grateful to be in this devised piece. Building this production from the ground up has been an ineffable experience, convivial energy all throughout this production process. I’m so excited for people to see this production due to the lack of dialogue and emphasis on movement and projections. It’s going to be such a sublime experience for everyone because they don’t know what to expect when they hear about a play about space. In my eyes, it has visually appealing components that enhance this play that much.”

Alex Rudnick, a music arts management major, Class of ‘26, is the sound designer and composer for the show.

“I am very excited to be able to share all the music I have made for the show, especially when combined with the technical wizardry of our Lighting & Projections Designer, Kaleb Pecoraro. I have written and recorded seven original songs, as well as compiled a number of sound effects and ambient music, for the show.”

Songs in order of appearance are: “Drift,” “Crew of the Andromeda,” “Untitled,” “Building the Rocket,” “Gaze,” “B3-1715+425,” and “Silverstorm.”

“The ‘Voice of the Universe’ at the beginning of the show also features an original underscoring from Henry Gelber,” Rudnick said.

“The eclipse scene also features a clip from Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture. One of the cast members, Jess, also plays a cover of ‘The Moon Song’ by Karen O.”

Charles Marcheski, is a theatre major and a junior, performing in the devised piece.

“This show is more than I ever could have anticipated in the best way possible. Everything about the creation process has been fluid and unknown—a very welcome adventure in response to the general rigidness of scripts. The loss of structure has been a challenge for our heavily talented technical crew, but this challenge has resulted in one of the strongest bonds I’ve ever felt within a theatre group. We have something special to share with this show.”



In February, the cast and design team started with a dome and a concept and set out to create an outer space show, according to Devine.

The performance features creative work by students from projection mapping using three projectors to original music, illustration, handmade set pieces and videos, singing, dancing, climbing, and acting.

The show runs about an hour and is appropriate for ages 8 and up. There will be no late seating for this show.

“It’s an impressive display of student talent and creativity,” Devine said.

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