Farnsworth Chronicles, 7


The arrival of April means that we are less than four weeks away from the opening of The Farnsworth Invention.  It was fun giving a brief, ever so subtle, gratuitous plug for the show during my TEDxFortMcMurray presentation.  The invention of the television, which is what the play is all about, was my first example of a watershed moment.

We completely and utterly take the electronic transmission of moving images for granted, but back in the 1920's when a rash of scientists were rushing to figure out how to make it happen - chief among those being Vladimir Zworykin and Philo Farnsworth - the idea was the stuff of science fiction.

"At best it was going to be considered a nifty parlor trick." And putting aside the valiant attempts, according to the scientists working for RCA it was "never going to work."

Like my character David Sarnoff says, his guys "may have called that putt a little early."

The idea of looking through an historical lens at the tools we have today (like television) provides a fresh perspective on technology that has become commonplace, faded into the landscape.  It is a fascinating trip going back to the formative years of a device that has morphed into 50" flatscreen monstrosities that dominate our living spaces.

Apart from a few choice words - mostly uttered by my character - this play offers an accessible and entertaining glimpse behind the curtain of invention.

We were displaced from our regular rehearsal space yesterday, as the Rehearsal Hall was the venue for last night's Keyano A Go-Go event. So we crammed into the smaller choral ensemble room and proceeded to do a run of the show, focusing as much as were were able to on not using our scripts.  Michael Beamish (playing Philo Farnsworth) was brilliant, slamming through act one with ease and braving act two sans text, calling "Line!" whenever he came up empty.

I made it through act one, but not without more than a few prompts.  Act two is my challenge for today as the expectation is that the entire cast has all their lines learned by Wednesday's rehearsal.

At one point, I found myself at a scene transition with no bloody idea of what was next.  I completely blanked.  In case that ever happens again, I've given my onstage wife, Mrs. Sarnoff (Humberly Gonzales) , permission to give me a good swift kick in the pants to send me moving in the right direction.

We've already begun to witness what happens when the books get set aside and the actors fully engage in the moment.  There is a lot of hard work yet to come, but the show is shaping up nicely and will be an outstanding way to end what has been a great season for the Keyano Theatre Company.

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