The Earthquake Predictor Rides the Bus
The spontaneous and melodramatic nature of live theater leaves
much room for innovation, whether via surprising turns of
Shakespearean phrase or through casual outdoor settings that turn
the venues themselves into meaningful characters. But perhaps never
before — at least in Santa Barbara — have theatrical tricks gone as
far as in UCSB doctoral candidate Hank Willenbrin’s The
Earthquake Predictor Rides the Bus. That’s because the
play — which is being shown for free on September 22 and 29 at 7,
8, and 9 p.m. as part of the ongoing Off-Axis contemporary arts
festival — takes place on a moving bus.
Acted and directed by Westmont professor Mitchell Thomas, the
play will begin at the corner of State Street and Cabrillo
Boulevard when audience members board the bus and continue for
about 30 minutes before dropping them back off where it started.
The play presents Santa Barbara’s history through the eyes of an
earthquake expert with temporal problems, meaning that he has
trouble figuring out what’s past, present, reality, and dreams.
It’s all a precursor to a future event later this fall, where
Thomas will be presenting up to 20 student plays that all take
place in a vehicle of some sort. In that late November/early
December project, the audience will filter through cars as the
players repeat their performances throughout the evening.
But don’t wait for that — check out The Earthquake
Predictor Rides the Bus next weekend, and say you were there
when Santa Barbara theater took a bus ride to groundbreaking
— Matt Kettmann