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Columbia instructor directs Cat’s Cradle adaptation at Lifeline Theatre with alumni on the stage

Peyton Reich
The cast bows and waves after their performance of the newly adapted play “Cat’s Cradle,” on Sept. 3, 2023, at the Lifeline Theatre, located at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. The play is a satirical tale on how organized religion, banana republic politics and scientific research can bring on the end of the world.

People think about whether or not they could but never if they should. That premise is at the core of the now 60-year-old novel “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut and now in a new adaptation from Lifeline Theatre.

“Cat’s Cradle” follows the journey of John who after originally intending to write a book about the impact of atomic bomb, ends up going to an island of people who practice Bokononism, a secret religion that consists of any two worshippers rubbing the bare soles of their feet together to inspire spiritual connection. The island of San Lorenzo is also dealing with a deadly ice substance Ice-Nine, a solid polymorph of water.

Amidst all of this is the message of thinking over the implications of choosing to move forward in changes that would impact human life, whether it be positive or negative.

“We decided that it would be a great moment with our current world, to revisit this adaption,” said Director Heather Currie, who also teaches part-time in the Cinema and Television Arts Department. “The company previously did an adaption 20 years ago.”

When asked about the Bokononism’s importance in reflecting reality, Currie said, “it is satirizing this made-up set of rules that humans will create to give themselves a set of beliefs [yet], there are ideas that are helpful and true of our experience like a karass, that our lives interweave with each other…it both satirizes some of that system and also celebrates some of the really positive aspects.”

Mandy Walsh, a Columbia graduate, plays Mrs. Crosby, who plans to open a bicycle shop with her husband to take advantage of poor labor conditions, and Sandra, a prostitute.

“The two roles are different,” Walsh said, so the challenge was “finding their voice, pitch, rate of speech, where is the sound placed…and then just threw a lot of experimentation in rehearsals so we would just try different things.”

Then it all came together.

“It really comes together once you get the costumes and the makeup and things fell into place more and more as we kept adding elements to the rehearsal process and definitely intact it in previews,” she said.

Johnard Washington plays L. Boyd Johnson, one of the founders of San Lorenzo who later on became Bokononism founder Bokonon, and Papa Manzano, the ruler of San Lorenzo. A memorable juncture happened during rehearsals where Washington said, “You’re in a room of very serious actors who want to do their due diligence and create life in the roles and Heather just has this charm about her that…I often found myself and I think the room, laughing…I guess in her own Vonnegut way, just like having a lot of ideas coming…”

Washington said people tend to go to theaters to escape from reality. “I think ‘Cat’s Cradle’ does a good job at that without saying ‘We have the answer’, because in the end no one really does.”

Lifeline Theatre’s performance of Cat’s Cradle runs from Friday, Sept. 15 to Sunday, Oct. 22.

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About the Contributors
Uriel Reyes
Uriel Reyes, Reporter
ureyes@columbiachronicle.com   Uriel Reyes is a sophomore music performance major, minoring in journalism. He primarily covers the Muesum of Contemporary Photography, and the Dance and Theatre Departments. Reyes has also written student spotlight articles and film reviews. He joined the Chronicle in January 2023.   Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Peyton Reich
Peyton Reich, Photojournalist
preich@columbiachronicle.com   Peyton Reich is a junior photojournalism major, minoring in marketing. Reich has covered the Mexican Independence parade, Columbia's Black Student Union and theatre performances. Reich joined the Chronicle in August 2023.   Hometown: Flossmoor, Illinois