“Mr. Burns” and the art of storytelling


Kayla Forde as Bart Simpson in “Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play.” (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

This weekend, the Theatre School is presenting the last few showings of the post-apocalyptic production, “Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play.”

Written by playwright Anne Washburn, the three-act play hinges on the 1993 episode of “The Simpsons” entitled “Cape Feare”a parody of the 1962 thriller “Cape Fear” and its 1991 remake.  In the episode, Sideshow Bob sends Bart Simpson multiple death threats, forcing him and his family to travel miles from Springfield to a sketchy town in an attempt to escape Bob’s murder plot before having to finally confront him one-on-one.

It is fitting that the production uses “The Simpsons” as a basis for its commentary due to the show’s ability to humorously express issues within our culture and society.  However, one isn’t required to have seen the hit television series or even be a fan in order to grasp the play’s concept.

(Photo courtesy of Michael Brosilow)

With each act taking place in a different time period and featuring a different style of theatre, along with spirited renditions of pre-apocalypse Top 40 hits weaved throughout the second and third acts, the play hints at the value and necessity of storytelling and how it, along with popular culture, evolves and progresses over time to fit the needs of an ever-changing cultural climate.

Kayla Forde, who plays Quincy in the second act and Bart Simpson in the third, said that the nature of the play takes a certain level skill and technique in order to effectively tell such a dynamic form of storytelling which, in turn, really drew the cast together to form a family-like bond.   

“I think it’s cool that we’ve made something like that into our truth and our story,” Forde said.  “We’ve definitely found ownership of it.”

Forde says she hopes that after watching the play, people care for the people in their lives more, given how easy it is to disconnect ourselves from one another and to block people out.

“I hope that people, when they see this, are reminded of the beauty within everybody of all of humanity,” Forde said.

Jeremy Aluma, MFA student and director of “Mr. Burns,” said what drew him to the play was the overall theme, which speaks to his passion for theatre, is “storytelling is a means of survival and evolution.”  

“It is something that I truly believethat theatre has the ability to change individuals’ lives and therefore change the world, and not every play deals with that subject matter,” he said.

Aluma said he hopes the play leaves a unique impression on each audience member who goes to see it.

“I hope that the play means something to them that they need in that moment, rather than this prescribed thing that I am afterand there is a thing I’m afterbut for me, it is enough that the play does something to them, speaks to them, changes them, regardless of what that change is.”


“Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play” is playing through Feb. 4 at the Healy Theatre.