OLATHE, KAN., April 27, 2015:
Olathe Civic Theatre Association (OCTA)
completes its 40th Anniversary Season with the
Kansas City area premiere of The Summerland
Project by Iowa playwright Rob Merritt. The
show is directed by Patrick Poe and runs June
"What makes us human?" Driven by this
fundamental question, The Summerland Project is
the story of Amelia and Carter Summerland, a
young couple in love. When Amelia suffers an
aneurysm that leaves her unresponsive and
slowly dying, police officer Carter searches
for a way to revive her. He's approached by
Wesley Enterprises about allowing Amelia to be
the test subject for an experimental program
that will place her mind in a new, artificial
body, and out of desperation, he agrees. The
play explores the question of whether the
result is really Amelia Summerland, or is it
something else entirely?
Playwright Rob Merritt says he always wanted to
find a way to address this theme, but wasn't
sure how. "It's predicted that if computers
keep advancing at the current rate, we will
have a computer that's big enough and fast
enough to simulate every neuron in the human
brain and run a fully functional human brain --
that we will see this happen not only in our
lifetimes, but possibly, in the next few
decades," Merritt said. "If that's true, and we
do that, what would that mean? If you copied a
brain that way, would it be human? If it can
think and remember exactly like the original
one did, then why wouldn't it be alive? And if
it isn't, then what is it that makes us human?
"I felt like once I thought about that, not
only did I have a way to tell my story -- the
one I wanted to tell for a long time -- I knew
that it was an opportunity to explore much
bigger themes," Merritt said.
OCTA will be the second theatre to produce the
show. The cast includes: Artem Bagdasaryan
(Carter Summerland); Sommer Brechiesen (Amelia
Summerland); Anita Meehan (Dr. Ellen Beckett );
Derrick Freeman (Max Parker) Ted Collins (Paul
Wesley); David Innis (Senator Thaddeus
Williams); Laura Burt (Adah Allen). The
production staff is: Director, Patrick Poe;
Stage Manager, Rebekah Grieb; Assistant Stage
Manager and Costume Designer, Jo Bledsoe; Set
Designer, Aaron Roose; Lighting Designer, J.
Patrick Inlow; and Properties Designer, Vicky
To learn more about the creation and themes of
The Summerland Project, take a look at Rob
Merritt's production video on YouTube.
The show runs for three weekends on June 5, 6,
7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, and 21 with Friday and
Saturday night performances at 8 p.m. and
Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
There will be talk-back sessions with
playwright Rob Merritt following the June 5 and
June 12 performances. Tickets and more
information are available at olathetheatre.org
or reservations may be made by calling the
theatre hotline at 913-782-2990.
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