Preview: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom at ALT

  • Matt Slaybaugh photo
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From the April 26, 2012 edition

Imagine a not-so-distant future where everyone’s needs are met, wealth is measured in karma, and people can simply reboot themselves into new bodies when they die. There is one similarity to our present time: Everyone is constantly using social media.

In the 22nd-century world of the novel “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom,” author Cory Doctorow’s characters are always online.

“It’s a 10-year-old book, but it’s almost like he foresaw Facebook and Twitter,” said Matt Slaybaugh, the artistic director of Available Light Theatre who adapted “Down and Out” for the stage.

The problem, as the protagonist Julius discovers, is that if you’re murdered, when you’re brought back in a new body you won’t remember your last moments. Julius, a resident of Disney World, discovers the details of his death while trying to maintain the popular rides of yore.

“They’re maintaining the rides, but others are interested in replacing the wonderfully nostalgic, technologically out of date rides with simulated experiences,” Slaybaugh explained. “One of the big themes is about nostalgia versus progress for its own sake.”

Available Light is using plenty of technology to tell this story. Four large projection screens will be set up around the stage to portray the theme park and help the audience keep track of the characters’ karma, measured in a currency called Whuffie.