April 4, 2023
Nathan Alan Davis creates a world full of questions in Eternal Life Part 1. The characters ask one another “What is consciousness?”; “What is your life philosophy?”, “Have you lost the will to live?” and, my favorite, “You have property in Greenland?!”. The characters and their questioning of life, legacy, and purpose weave in and out through a story centered on a family, some snowflakes, and a talking Goose. Together, they spark these same questions for anyone who encounters this play. It is inevitable. The title alone makes us ask, “Just what is eternal life?”
In my dramaturgy research for this project, I’ve found myself falling down the rabbit hole of the many intriguing themes woven throughout this story. I’ve spent hours reading about biocentrism, theories on life after death, space travel, carbon offsets, and much more. And all of these findings have led me a touch closer to unearthing the heart of Davis’ play. But there is always something more buried amongst the journeys and desires of these characters. More questions than answers it seems, which feels crucial to bring to audiences now. If there’s anything the last few years have proven it is that nothing really makes sense! There is always more to be pursued and questioned and explored.
In producing this play, we as a theater are speaking to our limited time here on this earth and interrogating just what we’re able to do with the time we do have. If we could live forever on this planet, would we find ways to make meaningful connections with the land around us, explore our deepest questions of self with our family members and friends, or would we get caught in the seemingly inevitable cycle of hyper fixating on the little things, caught in the daily, unfulfilling grind?
This play challenges us to ask the really BIG questions, not only of the world around us and mysteries of life, but to also look within and imagine what our impact can do. As global warming continues to plague the planet, we must embrace and nurture our connectedness to one another as human beings as well as our dedication to the world. We must face the fleeting nature of life itself and sow deeply into our communities, chosen and not, and find the avenues for making our own impact regardless of how great or small. And this play does just that. It brings you into the possibilities and leaves you to question what you can do to support and nurture all around you.
Below are links to videos, podcasts, articles, and other materials that have sparked my interest during my dramaturgy research. Read on to learn more about the many topics woven into this story. I’ve also included some personal notes from myself about these materials, so you can get inside my head a bit.
“To NASA. And to Mother Earth. And to Father Time. And to all of us being together.”
Frozen Head Podcast (Spotify)
Episode: You’re All Going to Die!
The whole podcast is very interesting! I listened to it on the treadmill, and I was often caught gasping, laughing, and full on stopping at several points by the other gym members as I listened. This final episode has a professor who specializes in death, and he gives some great explanations as to why we are both fascinated AND scared of this very natural event.
Space Time (PBS)
Episode: What If Humanity Is Among The First Spacefaring Civilization
Just, whoa. Another source that blew my mind. As we expand our minds to think about just how big the universe is, it seems to only make sense that there are other beings who’ve started traveling through space and possibly towards us on Earth. Right? RIGHT?!
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Episode: Carbon Offsets
I have to admit, I didn’t understand a whole lot about carbon offsets before starting to research for this play. This John Oliver segment really put things into perspective for me and helped frame the just how (and if) carbon offsets actually help the planet and our carbon footprint.
How to Save A Planet Podcast
Episode: Am I The (Climate) A**hole? – How to Save a Planet | Podcast on Spotify
Another great podcast overall! I loved this episode because it looked at the infamous Reddit thread and centered some of the climate change questions floating around. Three climate change experts review four different stories where people ask “Am I the (Climate) A**hole?” with their own personal experiences with trying to save the planet.
I’ll be honest, some of these have been my favorite films/tv shows for years, and I mostly snuck them onto this list to influence others… BUT they are also incredibly insightful! In some way, they all examine the ways we as a society have imagined the future, how we process and talk about death, and our connections to one another. Take a look at some (or all!) of them!