Examining the Infinite

new set of monologues takes on the big questions

Tyler Jennings Henderson, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Jack Bushnell’s new play The Infinity Monologues tackles big questions through the use of historical figures.
Jack Bushnell’s new play The Infinity Monologues tackles big questions through
the use of historical figures.

Through a series of fictional monologues from non-fictional historic figures, Jack Bushnell has written a new play – The Infinity Monologues – in an attempt to bring life to the moments leading up to life-or-death situations.

The play, which will be performed on May 15 in the Volume One Gallery, features characters Amelia Earhart, Lawrence Oates, and Stephen Hawking. Earhart and Oates both disappeared during expeditions – Earhart during an attempted flight around the world, Oates during a trek to the South Pole – while Hawking is still alive, but theoretically should have died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) many years ago.   “I picked three characters that found themselves in extreme situations,” Bushnell said. “This is the kind of thing that theater does very well. You take a character, you put them in an extreme situation, in crisis, and then you see what happens.”

Bushnell called upon three members a popular local acting group – BareBones Ensemble Theatre – to perform his newest work: Rose Dolan-Neill, Josh Dolan-Neill, and Matt Florence.

Bushnell, a UW-Eau Claire English professor, has been recognized in the past for his writing endeavors, including publishing creative non-fiction for adults and fiction stories for children. He has won awards from the International Reading Association, Friends of American Writers, Council for Wisconsin Writers, and more. But The Infinity Monologues is Bushnell’s first stab at performance theater. “I felt as if I’ve reached a point in my life where I really wanted to challenge myself to try a new form,” he said. “I wanted to feel scared… Doing something brand new that would stretch me.

Bushnell sees this new outlet as an opportunity to dive into the unknown, while the audience can develop its own interpretations of what this trio of international heroes went through during their final thoughts.

“These characters are confronted the biggest question out there,” he said. “Life, death, beginnings, endings. … The infinite.”

The Infinity Monologues will be performed May 15 at the Volume One Gallery, 205 N. Dewey St., at 7pm.

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