Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play
USC School of Dramatic Arts
Scene Dock Theatre
Mask and Makeup Design
“He said: it’s not knowing, that’s the problem. He said: I think I can handle anything, if I know what it is... I just can’t manage the dread.”
Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play is a story in three acts about the collapse of society after an unnamed apocalypse that kills the power. The first act follows a group of survivors shortly after the fall attempting to remember the Cape Feare Simpson's episode. The second comes 7 years later as the group, now a Simpson's theatre company, rehearses their show. The third comes 75 years after that, displaying an absurd ritualistic Simpsons musical that depicts Bart's lethal struggle against the monstrous power plant owner Mr. Burns.
The costuming needs for the play change dramatically through the different acts, and each require their own unique look. The first act presents the characters as survivors, a nomadic group looking for a safe place to rest and for clarification from other travelers on the safety of their loved ones as nuclear power plants begin to melt down. Their clothing is practical, that which you would take camping and could scavenge from a sporting goods store, with minimal accessories and extraneous elements.
The second act takes these same survivors and puts them in the role of theatrical artists. Their Simpsons-inspired costumes are minimalistic, and cartoonish in nature, a product of the resources they have access to. Their costumes for their commercials are much finer, invoking a sense of longing and nostalgia for a time before the apocalypse, where your biggest concern is only who is stealing food from the company fridge.
The third act presents a hauntingly ritualistic performance, culminating in the deaths of most Simpsons characters at the hands of Mr. Burns and the meltdown of his nuclear power plant. The costumes are more exaggerated and saturated for the Simpsons, and vaguely religious and muted for the chorus. They serve to elevated the absurdity of the act to a dystopian morality play, providing a message of depressed hope for a society trying to rebuild and recover from complete disaster and destruction.