by Ed Fortune
Eric Rose is the Artistic Director of Ghost River Theatre and the Co- Sound Designer, Director and Adaptor of Tomorrow’s Child, a show based on the Ray Bradbury story of the same name. We caught up with Eric to find out more about this show, which is currently on at the Edinburgh Fringe.
STARBURST: How would you pitch Tomorrow’s Child to someone new to the fringe?
Eric Rose: Tomorrow’s Child is a one-of-a-kind blindfolded listening experience that brings Ray Bradbury’s retro-futuristic sci-fi world to life through audiences’ imaginations and a high-fidelity soundscape.
Why this particular Ray Bradbury story?
Bradbury is one of the world’s literary sci-fi giants, and he’s at his classic best with Tomorrow’s Child [also published as The Shape of Things in 1948]. Bradbury wrote Tomorrow’s Child coming out of WWII in the late ’40s, imagining the futuristic world of 1988. For audiences in 2023, it’s a retro-futuristic world that is full of a symphony of mechanisms, buttons, motors, and machinery.
In other words, Bradbury’s world is full of mechanical gadgets that make sound, unlike our silent contemporary digital devices.
Not to mention Tomorrow’s Child poses some fun and unique sci-fi challenges. For example, creating what it sounds like to be born into the fourth dimension. Or even better, conceptualizing the sounds of a baby in the fourth dimension who appears to everyone as a blue pyramid. These lush audio challenges are a fantastic starting point for a piece of immersive theatre.
Tomorrow’s Child is mastered for high-fidelity sound featuring more than 10,000 individual sounds created by over 50 artists – making it an extremely vivid, deep listening experience for our blindfolded audiences.
The other reason we chose Tomorrow’s Child is its story. At the time we were making Tomorrow’s Child, I was a new dad, and the struggles of the main character Polly had a significant resonance for me.
The story follows Polly as a new mother who, in isolation, suffers from postpartum depression, trying to navigate caring for a baby who is different. I believe Polly’s story is especially relevant at a time when the world is emerging out of physical disconnection with a renewed focus on mental wellness. Indeed, the story challenges our assumption of what is ‘normal’ and how we treat families and individuals that don’t conform to traditional ideas of what people or families look or act like.
Hang on, blindfolds? What does theatre bring to this story that other formats don’t?
Tomorrow’s Child is part of a larger body of Ghost River Theatre’s work which explores what happens to the boundaries of narrative when you focus on stimulating the audience’s senses. When you take away sight – our primary gateway in the world – how do our imaginations open up to narrative? How can being deprived of sight prime us for a unique performance experience?
At the forefront of Ghost River Theatre’s work is the question of liveness: how we unearth and reveal the world differently for audiences based on the immediacy and interactivity of the performance experience. Tomorrow’s Child, along with our other blindfolded immersive work, challenges us in our devised practice to better understand and trust the imaginary space our audience needs, to fully engage in the live performance experience.
How different is this from other Ghost River Theatre projects?
Tomorrow’s Child is part of a collection of sensory-based immersive experiences produced by Ghost River Theatre over the last decade.
Would you adapt other classic sci-fi works?
YES! I am a huge sci-fi fan and love the strange shifting experience of working on stories that ask us to exist between the past, present and future. I am endlessly fascinated by how science fiction defines the present moment by the way we imagine a fictional future.
As a sidebar, we have had a number of academics write about our production, including an article in the Canadian Theatre Review titled: “Nature Exposed to Our Line of Questioning”: Tomorrow’s Child as Quantum Theatre. Cool, eh?
Why did you bring this particular project to Scotland?
Scotland has an incredible, complex and rich history that offers a vast perspective when imagining our future. Every day in Scotland, you can’t help but be confronted with architecture, artefacts and monuments that often push up against the contemporary present. So, the Scottish are primed to imagine the retro-futuristic world of Tomorrow’s Child. Also, Edinburgh is renowned for being a city of audiophiles.
Why should STARBURST readers seek this out?
To experience a rare and adventurous immersive audio experience that is surprisingly visual even though the audience is blindfolded! Also, if you are a lover of rich sound and Sci-fi, this experience is for you!
What media are you currently enjoying?
I am a big fan of podcasts (Radio-Lab, The Stranger, Serial, Love and Radio, The Moth) along with TV Series like The Foundation, Westworld, and The Twilight Zone) and am just finishing the classic Stephen King novel, The Tommyknockers.
What are your plans after the Edinburgh Fringe?
Our hope is that we will build a tour for Tomorrow’s Child out of our run in Edinburgh. Immediately after the Fringe, however, Ghost River Theatre will be going into post-production for a new Cli-fi (Climate-change Science Fiction) streaming series, So Dark The Sky, that I co-wrote and directed.
Tomorrow’s Child runs at the Edinburgh Fringe until August 28th, 2023. You can find out more about Ghost River Theatre here.