Amateur Theatre… in Space

Review of “A Little Space Music” by Edward Willett. In On Spec Vol. 24, No. 1, Spring 2012.

By Derek Newman-Stille

In “A Little Space Music”, Edward Willett demonstrates his creative wit and humour. He plays on an issue that is familiar to any of us who have done amateur theatre… the issue of making a cast out of actors with varying skills. But, his theatre has a twist – it is made up entirely of aliens being directed by a human. Willett explores what it would be like to direct diverse alien bodies in drama, dealing with issues like movement, blocking, and the portrayal of emotion for people without human bodies, human movement, or human faces. How do you direct emotional display by your actors when they don’t display their emotions with their faces but through producing different colours of slime?

Willett creates an alien race (the Squill) in search of religion. Believing that religious ideas must encompass all of the universe’s ideas about the divine (a form of consensual theology that actually seems to make a lot of sense), they explore varying worlds to choose among their religions to incorporate into their own views on the divine. On earth, they debate from two areas: hockey… or musical theatre (the two things that they see as drawing the largest crowds) and decide that musical theatre is their one true path to the divine.

Willett expresses an idea that is common to many who are in musical theatre because of their love of performance… the idea that the only place to make money acting is on an alien cruise ship.

This work portrays cultural consumerism gone wrong, and the consumption of the arts of others in order for people to feel more at home with themselves.

You can explore On Spec’s website at and find out more about this story. Visit Willett’s website at for more information on his upcoming projects.

Derek Newman-Stille

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