A group of New York artists spent time at Troy University recently developing a unique educational variety show they plan to take on the road.
With the working title “Mathemagics,” the show combines elements of the circus, musical theater, sketch comedy, magic, math and science.
“We’re going step by step through the history of mathematics and how it came to be what it is today,” said Brian Klimowski, one of the show’s performers.
The group spent several days working at the Trojan Center Theater, writing, editing and practicing for the show.
The residency allowed them to fine tune the show into something that can be taken across the country and performed in front of a variety of audiences.
“These creative residencies are where you have an idea and you go into a room with performers to test out what works and what doesn’t,” said West Hyler, the writer and director. “We’re doing rewrites constantly, so they’re getting new pages every day. They’re bringing ideas to the table, I’m bringing ideas to the table, and by the end of this, we have our first rough draft of the show.”
Hyler said the show delivers a little something for everyone that might attend.
“Some of the math gets very intense and technical, but there’s juggling, there’s circus, there’s magic, song and dance, musical theater and comedy bits, so I think that makes it interactive as well,” he said. “I’d say it’s aimed at anyone who wants to make math fun.”
Jacob D’Eustachio, a professional juggler, puts his skills to use during the show alongside Klimowski.
“We’re talking about fractals, Godel’s theorem, chaos theory, the Pythagorean theorem, things like that,” he said. “This show is a bit about the relationship between chaos and order, finding order in chaos, chaos in order, and how those two concepts shape the world. We also play with paradoxes.”
TROY Department of Theatre and Dance Chair Tori Lee Averett said the idea to develop the show at the Troy Campus made perfect sense.
“The idea began with new faculty member Frank Marquette and New York producer Ashley DeSimone. When we first talked about the idea, I knew from the beginning that this would provide a concentrated and valuable opportunity for students to experience something with real-world relevance,” Averett said.
Hyler said TROY was an ideal spot to workshop the project and allowed students to learn from professional artists.
“The people here have been great,” Hyler said. “The stage management staff and assistant directors I have here are all TROY students and they’ve all been remarkable. I met with Dr. (Govind) Menon, chair of the chemistry and physics department, and we’ve talked about physics equations in the show. I’ve done a talkback with theater students and an audition workshop. For the students, they get a professional actor and directors to work with, and we get the talent and support staff around. It’s beneficial for both parties.”
Working with professionals provides valuable experience for students looking to enter the entertainment business.
“For them to be able to witness the creative process in all its collaborative precision and messiness, for them to hear directly from people who are actively working in the performing arts industry, for them to literally work alongside professionals toward a real, observable outcome – these are the types of relevant experiences we seek for them, and they are opportunities that often cannot be manufactured or simulated in a classroom,” Averett said.
Hyler said there’s no timetable on the show’s production, but he hopes to see it professionally produced in New York City, around the country and, eventually, internationally.