By Tim Carlson
Omniscience is a futuristic mystery woven from fragments of electronic surveillance. Based on the classic dystopian themes developed in such works as Nineteen Eighty Four, Fahrenheit 451 and The Handmaid’s Tale, the play is a timely examination of privacy, language and media in the post-9/11 world.
Conspiracy premiered Omniscience in Vancouver in 2004, featuring Camyar Chai, Nicole Leroux, Jennifer Clement and Craig March, with original music by Chris Hind, lighting design by Michael Schaldemose, video design by Flick Harrison and costumes by Sandy Buck. Directed by Richard Wolfe, the play was nominated for six Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, including best production, and Andreas Kahre won the award for outstanding set design.
The play is published by Talonbooks and is available in German translation by Barbara Christ in Theatre der Ziet’s Dialog anthology. The translation received a staged reading at Berlin’s Maxim Gorki Theatre in 2006 and was produced by Theater Magdeburg in 2007. The play premiered in the US at Stage Left in Chicago in 2008 and a Portuguese-language translation was produced by Novo Grupo de Teatro in Lisbon in 2008. Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, produced the US college premiere in 2009.
“A nuanced murder-mystery …” Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun
“A gritty and complex drama …” Tricia Hopton, Canadian Literature
“Carlson’s dialogue is sharp and shrewd …” Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
“ … a scary allegory which leads us towards an spectacular conclusion, compelling us to think about truth, manipulation of information and power … “ Time Out Lisbon
“Carlson’s new dystopian thriller acquires considerable power – enough to shake up its audience and make us look at the scary political forces that are engulfing us. Omniscience is never less than intelligently provocative … this is the best writing yet from Carlson.” — Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight
“The four characters have all played a role in the ubiquitous surveillance that has chipped away at fundamental freedoms, underlying the murder mystery that drives this unforgettable play forward to its unexpectedly hopeful conclusion.” — Stephen Peithman, www.stagedirections.com
“Like all treatments of dystopia, Omniscience is provocative, scary and makes us wonder how far down that particular road we have already gone. The real and considerable pleasure lies in Carlson’s treatment and the high production values in this Theatre Conspiracy production.” — Jo Ledingham, Vancouver Courier
Photos: Tim Matheson