Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play
by Anne Washburn at Playwright Horizons
Since another student is also reviewing Mr. Burns, I figured I would look up the playwright and why she picked this particular episode, along with other interesting tidbits. Anne Washburn sat down with John Del Signore from Gothamist.com for an interview discussing her inspiration for the musical and audience reactions.
One thing that stood out to me was that she actually did not have The Simpsons in mind at first. Washburn always had the idea of a popular television show surviving post-apocalypse, but was thinking more along the lines of M*A*S*H, Cheers, or Friends. However, the priority was finding a cast that could be in it for the long haul. Once she found a group of dedicated actors, she had them try to recall notable episodes from well-known series, and The Simpson's "Cape Feare" episode had the most material to work with. She had the actors sit around in an empty bank vault below Wall Street for a week as she penned the first act. With the exception of one replaced actress, all the lines involving the actors trying to remember the episode are legitimate.
She also noted that John Vitti, the original writer of the episode, saw the play in D.C. and commented that he enjoyed it, but it was an "odd experience." Considering that the entire script is a deconstruction and re-conceptualization of the episode, I imagine that was a bizarre experience for Vitti as a writer.
Washburn also did her research on nuclear reactors, talking to two separate authorities on the matter. As Mr. Burns was the owner of the nuclear power company and the nuclear apocalypse is a vital part of the plot, Washburn wanted to ensure everything was as accurate as it could be.
All in all, this play is receiving rave reviews and is being touted as a reawakening of the mythos genre. I, for one, am ecstatic to see such a unique and well-thought out play.