Based on five short stories from J.G. Ballard’s speculative fiction collection Vermilion Sands (1971), Vermillion was a ninety-five minute stage adaptation performed at ATRiuM Theatre (22-23 May 2015), the project sought to investigate gender and science fiction through a scenographically driven adaptation. Vermilion Sands evokes a red-desert world where technology and art have become synonymous and the residents of the world, decadent and listless. For Ballard, this is a world where a noir-ish pulp-fiction can provoke a criticism of 1970s California, his stories clinging to the same tropes: a wayward techno-artist, meets a “femme-fatal” muse. The collection explores ennui and discusses future of art and technology. All the stories lead to elliptical literary conclusions where the femme-fatales vanish, leaving the male protagonists (all cyphers of Ballard himself) alone with their unfulfilling art. These issues make it fertile material for producing a formally rare science-fiction theatre with a materialist feminist agenda.To do this the aim was to embellish the female roles, to redress the gender imbalances whilst exploring the same technological, artistic and interpersonal themes as the source. Female roles were expanded, and some roles gender swapped, exploring relationships between characters and those between artist and art-works. Central to each Vermilion Sands story is a malfunctioning media technology; the failure of technology to produce art, is linked with the failure of relationships. Through making media and scenographic technology central to the production of Vermillion, the interplay between people and technology and the art that they both fail to create in this world became a central theme of the work; it had to be spatially fluid allowing diverse theatrical forms such as poetic realism and radio drama to exist within the same theatrical construct.
|Publication status||Published - 22 May 2015|
- J.G. Ballard
- stage adaptation
- science fiction