A troupe of actors, skilled at improvisation, have traveled together for a long time. In the course of their wanderings, they have come to excel at mounting various theatrical productions, where each member assumes a particular fictional role to play in the ensuing drama. The purpose is both to enjoy the show, as well as to work out various emotional and psycho-spiritual issues that the play will stimulate.
In this case, the show is called “Life on Earth”. It’s a production where these accomplished actors perform together within a holographic projection, complete with appropriate props, on a small planetary outpost on the edge of a mid-sized galaxy. The aim of the play is to initiate various dramatic situations in that realm, which in turn they can review after the production ends, in order to deepen self-awareness as consummate actors honing their improvisational skills.
Later, they will change roles and appear in further productions they create, all for similar purposes. Currently, however, they are so involved in their own dramatic personas that they have even forgotten they are actors in a staged production, so completely have they identified with their roles and “method”.
Although this is the mark of a superior actor, it also brings with it certain “complications” that one would expect to manifest in any such case of mistaken identity. Of course, assuming such limitations adds a richness and authenticity that might otherwise be lacking, and certainly creates the kind of visceral impact that the troupe so much appreciates and even celebrates at the post-production parties.
The plot for the play “Life on Earth” begins with human births, in which the actors enter into fleshy bio-vehicles, subject to various genetic and environmental conditioning elements. From this starting point, or opening act, the players must then attempt to survive and thrive, often against certain preconceived challenges, or impediments, which were devised by the troupe during the group script-writing, with the aim of creating dramatic tensions and theatrical opportunities.
The actors may take on the role of family members, teachers, employers, lovers, or antagonists, enemies, game opponents, and so forth — whatever creates the most engaging plot devices for dramatic purposes. Such purposes may include various forms of self-testing within the larger context of the screenplay, and consequent insightful revelation.
Given the open-ended parameters, the production may alternate between comedy and tragedy, between adventure and boredom, exultation and horror — all for the sake of the play. Indeed, as one famous dramatist once wrote, “The play’s the thing!”