A thunderstorm. An archetype enters our world: a scientist. An inventor. A legend around whom many myths would be woven. Nikola Tesla is an enigmatic figure. There is a Tesla whose practical legacy powers our world, a Tesla who was the victim of the harsh capitalism of Thomas Edison, a Tesla who conjured magic in Colorado Springs and built half a tower to provide free wireless electricity to the world, and a Tesla who stretches our minds into improbable places involving ray guns, FBI conspiracies, earthquake machines, Soviet cold war secret weapons, Martian messages and giant explosions in Russia. It is difficult, sometimes, to distinguish myth from fact. Time-traveling Teslas who become comic book heroes, Teslas who stalk Youtube with Mark Twain and comment on current events, and Teslas who create ‘duplicating’ machines in Hollywood blockbusters confound the situation further. Who was the real Tesla?
Alternating Realities presents the many worlds of Nikola Tesla in a layered narrative, interweaving historically kosher tales with some of the more fanciful interpretations of the inventor. Alternating Realities exposes the subjectivity of histories, chronicles the struggle of idealism against the limitations of the unimaginative, reveals the power of inspiration and the celebrates the raw awe of Tesla’s vision and achievements.
The development of Alternating Realities will be an interdisciplinary, social-media driven process. Development workshops involving artists, engineers, designers, writers and musicians will foster the cross-pollination of ideas, and bring unity to the production through the exploration of themes common to both Tesla’s science and many art forms – harmony, pattern, oscillation, energy, focus, rhythm. Designers will be required to learn about the role of meter in verse drama. Writers will learn about amplitude and frequency. Musicians will learn about harmonics in colour theory. These are just some of the cross-disciplinary activities that we hope will result in new collaborations between artists and original, cross-discipline techniques and ideas. The process will be transparent and open to influence from the broader community, as blogs and videos from the workshops will be published online and the public will have opportunity to critique, comment and suggest via blog tools, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus video conferences.
The devices of Robert McMahon will bring to both the artists and the eventual theatre audience a treat rarely enjoyed: to experience the point where science meets art. Integrated within the story, the spectacle of Robert’s Tesla Coil, Van De Graff generator, Wardenclyffe Tower model, 2 metre high Jacob’s ladder, sparks motor and disc lightning bring the literal Tesla magic to the immediate presence of the artists and audience, allowing them to directly experience the ‘electrifying’ feeling of witnessing alchemy in motion.