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From Spaceballs to Expedition 6

July 11, 2007

The actor/director Bill Pullman is in town, casting and rehearsing his upcoming docudrama, Expedition 6, which receives its world premiere at The Magic Theatre in September.

Safe to say that Pullman has come a long way since Space Balls. This multi-dimensional production which links the Columbia Shuttle disaster of 2003 with the war in Iraq and combines NASA reports and astronaut testimonies with trapeze, dance and a muted acting style might be a small step for mankind, but it's something of a giant leap for its creator/director.

Though he's best known as a film actor, Pullman has a background in the theatre. He has taught directing at Montana State University, serves on the Board of the Cornernstone Theatre and has performed on Broadway (in Edward Albee's The Goat, for example.) But this project is, I think (though I need to confirm this fact) the first time that Pullman has directed and created a full-length work for the professional stage. It's also unusual in as much as it's not a straight play written by a single author, but a "devised" production, culled together from disparate textual and performance elements.

The project evolved out of Pullman's desire to make sense of the events surrounding the shuttle disaster, he told me in an interview yesterday. People in Hollywood have been urging him to develop the idea into a movie, but he thinks the theatre is the place to tell this story. He wants to create a different kind of emotional link with the audience -- one that is only possible on stage.

I can't wait to see the show. There was an exciting buzz at The Magic Theatre yesterday. The staff -- which has put up as it best as it can with many far less cooperative film industry people in the past -- all seem to be pretty happy about working with Pullman. I'm not surprised. I only spent an hour with him yesterday, but he strikes me both as an imaginative and sensitive thinker and a very sweet soul.

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