Where did the word "cyberspace" come from? Believe it or not, the word first appeared in a 1981 short story by William Gibson, "Burning Chrome." Steve Pickering, artistic director of Chicago's Next Theatre, and London director Charley Sherman adapted the story into a play, which premiered at Next in late winter 1998.
Now the play is getting its first West Coast staging, Sept. 16-Oct. 16 at the Sacred Fools Theatre in Hollywood. Scott Rabinowitz directs the sci-fi piece, which stars Rikki Wildside, David Holcomb, Adam Bitterman and Tenny Priebe.
Gibson, a latter-day Orwell, anticipated the Internet and virtual reality. His futuristic thriller, set in a giant megalopolis stretching from Atlanta to Boston, foretells the human cost of our ever-advancing technology when two cybercriminals try to pull off a heist from a mob boss -- a woman named Chrome -- but are undone by Rikki, the woman they both love.
Gibson, interviewed by Clive Barker in the Next company's newsletter, "Next Up," said of cyberspace, "The ways this technology is affecting us now are very, very subtle... Because of the Internet and the World Wide Web...the world's attic is being sorted, with a speed and precision that would have been impossible 10 or 15 years ago. The whole concept of rarities and random finds is disappearing. Soon, every book in every used book shop on the planet will be accessible to a search engine. And there's something -- there's really something horribly sad about that."
The show is the latest in a successful series of sci-fi collaborations between Pickering and Sherman. The team is also responsible for dramatizations of Clive Barker's In the Flesh (1992) and Son of Celluloid (1995).
Designing Chrome are director Rabinowitz & lighting designer Aaron Francis (set), Jay Werner (sound) and Joe Seely & Stan Freitag (special effects).
For tickets ($10) and information on Burning Chrome call (310) 281-8337.
-- By David Lefkowitz & Larry Bommer