March 27th, 2017
Thomas Gibbons has been the playwright-in-residence at InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia for about two decades now. His plays have been seen at the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, off-off-Broadway at Blue Heron Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Actors Express, Florida Stage, Unicorn Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, New Repertory Theatre, Aurora Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre and many others. He is the recipient of seven playwriting fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a Roger L. Stevens Award from the Fund for New American Plays, a Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award, an NAACP Theatre Award, two Barrymore Awards for outstanding new play, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.
According to an interview Gibbons did with Herald Mail Media, playwriting was not something he had originally planned on making his career. It was during his senior year studying fiction writing at Villanova University when he took a playwriting class and one of his scripts ended up being produced by a local theatre company. “It was just dumb luck,” he said. “I never thought of being a playwright. I hadn’t seen all that many plays at that point. I don’t think I quite appreciated it at the time how lucky I was, but the experience was wonderful and I felt I had stumbled into what I was supposed to be doing. I never went back to writing fiction.”
Gibbons says he hopes audiences will leave the theatre with “some questions” after seeing one of his plays. That is definitely the feeling our audiences will leave with after seeing Uncanny Valley at International City Theatre.
In an interview with CATF, Gibbons says “one of the things I want people to think about is this: as technology blurs the line between human and mechanical, artificial or whatever word you want to use – how is that going to change our definition of humanity?”
“As I began to work on the play, the word, “valley” became very important because it has many metaphysical implications: the valley between life and death, the valley between the creator and the created, the valley between parents and children. I’ve come to realize that this play is very much about parents and children.”
“I’m always happiest when people tell me they’ve seen one of my plays and then they went out and had a good argument in a restaurant for two hours,” he said with a laugh. “When I hear that, I feel like I’ve done my job.”
We think ICT audiences will be talking about this play long after it ends, because the material is so timely and so universally relevant. In a world where technology is becoming more and more advanced, can innovation go too far? How far is that? Is it possible for a robot to have or understand feelings? Are feelings and emotions what make us human? What is the future of life as we know it?
International City Theatre is located at the Beverly O’Neill Theater at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Uncanny Valley runs from April 19 – May 7. Show times are Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 2 pm. Regular tickets are $35 – $55. For tickets, call 562-436-4610 or buy online at www.InternationalCityTheatre.org