Theater Opening: ASCENSION (Echo Theater Company)

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by Jim Allen on September 29, 2021

in Theater-Los Angeles

Ascension is an interactive, sci-fi, futuristic cyber play

Do you know about it? The Second Sun? It’s real. It’s going to take you home. The Echo Theater Company presents the world premiere of Ascension  a sci-fi mystery thriller written by D.G. Watson and directed by Echo associate artistic director Ahmed Best. Performances take place on TuesdaysWednesdays and Thursdays Oct. 6 through Nov. 18, 2021 at Atwater Village Theatre. One preview performance is set for Oct. 5.

In this Echo-commissioned, futuristic cyber play that strikes at the heart of our assumptions about faith, memory and reality, Rebel (played by Charrell Mack) is trapped inside a long, narrow pod. Nobody knows she’s in there… nobody but you, the audience. For some strange reason, your minds and hers are psychically linked, and only you can help her escape. But who is she? And how did you become connected in this way?

“Ahmed and I wanted to explore the idea of empathy and isolation, of being in a place where you can’t connect with the people you rely on,” says Watson. “We’ve been living with Covid for nearly two years now. How do we build empathy and trust when we’re physically separated, but can still see and hear one another?”

Karen Sours Albisua (Ammunition Theatre Company’s The Giant Void in My Soul) plays Dr. Monica Traver, head of AI and Suspended Animation Research at Enventure. Inc. — and developer of virtual assistant Innana, voiced by Elise DuRantSteve Hofvendahl portrays Monica’s new boss, Julian Raithmore (“I only lied to you because I needed you to trust me.”). And Leandro Cano (currently appearing as “The Playwright” in The Last, Best Small Town at Theatricum Bortanicum) is the mysterious Caretaker. Also in the cast are Gloria Ines (Echo productions of Handjob and Underneath the Freeways of L.A.) as Monica’s daughter, Lindy, and Samantha Cavestani as Evan.

Director Ahmed Best is no stranger to sci-fi. He is perhaps best known as the first CGI lead character in a motion picture, having starred as Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. He currently hosts both Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge and The Afrofuturist Podcast. He is also the creator, writer and director of two web series, including the comic sci-fi series The Nebula. As an actor, Best starred in the musical Stomp on Broadway.

D.G. Watson is the author of The Tragedy: A Comedy (Ammunition Theatre Company), Unbound (IAMA Theatre Company), Snap (winner, 2005 NYC Battle of the Bards), Prime Time (Real TheatreWorks and PSNBC, Abingdon Theater), Remember the Light Rail (Ammunition Theatre Company and IAMA Theatre Company) and the collaborative piece Game On (Actors Theatre of Louisville). Watson was a co-creator and writer for the Emmy-nominated Disney series Johnny and the Sprites. His past exploits include an attempted walk across the United States in the name of world peace, which was featured on NPR’s This American Life.

The Ascension creative team includes “pod” designer Bill Voorhees and augmented reality designer Jesse Gilbert. Lighting and costumes are designed by Elio Oliver. The production stage manager is Christopher JerabekChris FieldsKelly Beech and Tessa Slovis produce for the Echo Theater Company.

Ascension opens on WednesdayOct. 6, with performances continuing on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. through Nov. 18 (dark Oct. 19, Oct. 20 and Oct, 21). One preview performance is set for Tuesday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets to all performances are $34, except the preview which is Pay-What-You-Want (subject to availability, $5 suggested minimum). Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los AngelesCA 90039. On-site parking is free. For reservations and information, call (310) 307-3753 or go to

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