Sean Kelly (Playwright) is a Chicago-born writer and director. He is currently leading a collaboration of nearly 50 artists in the creation of 100 new stories – deep stories told in silly ways. He has written and directed at Porchlight Music Theatre, Victory Gardens, Collaboraction, The Old Town School of Folk Music and his home, The New Colony.
In this 4-part feature, PerformInk continues its INSIDE series and takes you behind the scenes of The New Colony’s production of PSYCHONAUT LIBRARIANS through blog posts written by the people behind the scenes.
By Sean Kelly, Playwright
I would like to share this story with you. And if that title isn’t enough to grab you, let me try a little harder.
Psy Li — as we lovingly call it — is a new fantasy adventure that follows a group of librarians to the barrier between the world of the real and the world of the unreal.
There are werewolf chases. Fairy battles. A love story between a little girl and a rogue dream. And one very evil Sandman.
This is a play where people can fly. And two bodies can merge into one. And a kid can pull a steaming tea pot out of a hat. All in an environment that feels like you’re sneaking around a library after hours — winding through the stacks — danger or glory around each corner. It’s delicious.
It promises to be the most kinetic thing The New Colony has ever produced. Puppets! Projections! Fights! An original score played by an ORCHESTRA! Full on Steven Spielberg-John Williams adventuring that catapults you out of our world and into ‘the anyverse’ — a realm of infinite possibility where magic abounds.
The story started 4 years ago as nothing more than a title. Andy Hobgood — The New Colony’s Co-Artistic Director — texted me to ask ‘Do you know what psychonauts are?’ I had just done a short piece with real live librarians. And so it went.
Psychonauts are a subculture who practice taking hallucinogenics because they believe there are things outside of reality that they can get in touch with in an expanded state of mind. I’ve married this to librarians because I find them to be mysterious — like they must have secret lives.
The story pries at the feeling that what we call reality is just one small part of a much bigger, wilder experience. Psy Li leans into the weirder parts of ourselves – the irrational parts – the out-of-control parts that we usually hide.
Do you ever feel something brush past you that couldn’t have been the wind?
Or see a plastic bag floating through the air that you know isn’t just a bag?
Or feel like the lines in your hand were chiseled by gnomes while you sleep, giving you the map to follow?
To another world.
I’ve always been drawn to stories about other worlds. I can remember being a child, standing several long moments outside on a summer night, alone, street lamps lighting the houses and trees in gold. There was great magic in that light for me. It cast a peculiar artifice upon the scene. It hinted at another light, shining through the scene from behind. Like a light left on in the backstage of the world. A backstage to this play set of a quiet city street. The feeling was so real. The idea so momentous. I believe this moment is where my stories were born.
We would love to share this story with you. Come and join us in the anyverse. Come see what punk-genius Krissy Vanderwarker (the Batwoman of Plays) and the rest of this righteous cast and killer crew does with this bombastic love story of a little girl and her not-so-imaginary childhood friend.
Let’s get unreal.