KU News Release

Feb. 16, 2011
Contact: Charla Jenkins, University Theatre, 785-864-2684

KU Theatre for Young People presents adaptation of 'The Time Machine'

More Information

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Theatre for Young People is staging a new version of H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” adapted for the stage by Dennis Christilles, associate professor of theatre. Public performances are at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 26 and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Inge Theatre in Murphy Hall.

Christilles is also directing the production, which will be performed throughout the Lawrence public schools after the public performances. Delores Ringer, associate professor of theatre, is the costume designer.

“The Time Machine” was a science fiction novella published in 1895 for the first time and later adapted into at least two feature films, two television versions and a number of comic book adaptations. The story is generally credited with introducing the concept of time travel using a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposefully and selectively.

“My idea in tackling this 19th century classic was to concentrate on the story’s themes and characters,” Christilles said. “In adapting the book for the stage, I have attempted to remain as true as possible to his story. The suggestive theatricality of the stage will allow audiences to imagine a world far different from our own and yet hauntingly familiar.”

The story tells of an English scientist and inventor who gives a lecture to his weekly dinner guests that time is simply a fourth dimension. He demonstrates a tabletop model machine for traveling through it, revealing he has built a machine capable of carrying a person. He tests his device with a journey that takes him to the year 802,701 A.D., where he meets the Eloi, a society of small, elegant people both adultlike and childlike all at the same time. His efforts to communicate with them are hampered by their lack of curiosity or discipline, and he speculates that they are a peaceful communal society, the result of humanity conquering nature with technology and evolving into an environment in which strength and intellect are no longer advantageous to survival.

When he finds his time machine missing, he discovers it has been dragged into a nearby structure where he uncovers the Morlocks, ape-like people who live in darkness underground, and discovers the machinery and industry that makes the above ground paradise possible. He alters his theory, speculating that the human race has evolved into two species: the leisured classes have become the ineffectual Eloi and the downtrodden working classes who have become the brutish light-fearing Morlocks. He finds that their relationship is not one of lords and servants, but of livestock and ranchers with no real challenges facing either species. They have both lost the intelligence and character of man at its peak.

Christilles says Wells does not moralize upon the wisdom of time travel itself; rather he focuses on the fate of humanity.

“He was a keen and critical observer of trends and circumstances that occurred all around him,” he said. “The division of civilization into the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ was troubling to him. In exploring this idea to its disturbing conclusion, Wells paints a nightmarish portrait of a world that may still lie in our future.

“Wells was a prolific writer. In bringing his work to the stage, I hope audiences will be inspired to open the pages of his many other inspiring and thought provoking works. Many will find that he seems even more relevant today than a century ago.”

General admission tickets are on sale in the KU ticket offices: University Theatre, 864-3982, and Lied Center, 864-ARTS, and online at kutheatre.com. Tickets are $10 for the public, $5 for KU students and $9 for senior citizen and KU faculty and staff. All major credit cards are accepted for phone and online orders.

Members of the cast are listed by hometown, level in school, major, parents’ names, high school and role.

From Abilene 67410
Katie Divel, sophomore, theatre major, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Larry Divel, Abilene High School, an Eloi and a Morlock.

From Lawrence 66047
Laura Brooke Williams, junior, theatre major, daughter of Brad and Sheila Williams, Lawrence High School, George.

From Shawnee 66217
Shannon Buhler, sophomore, theatre major, daughter of Paul and Sherry Buhler, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, an Eloi and a Morlock.

From Osawatomie 66064
J.T. Nagle, senior, theatre major, son of Bill and Donna Nagle, Paola High School, Herbert, the time traveler.

From Topeka 66618
Joshua Murray, junior, theatre major, son of Stephanie Raborn-Hurla and Joseph Murray, Seaman High School, an Eloi and a Morlock.

From Bella Vista 72715
Maggie Parker, junior, theatre and art history major, daughter of Brenda Parker, Bentonville High School, Weena, an Eloi.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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