Photo courtesy of the Office of the Arts

Last Saturday, the Ferst Center for the Arts hosted a friendly chat between conceptual director Natasha Tsakos, Director of Tech’s Office of the Arts Madison Cario and potential fans in the form of interested audience members.

“An Evening with Natasha Tsakos” was exactly that: Tsakos and Cario sat in comfortable armchairs and discussed her upcoming show, “Billion Billions.”

Despite being held in an auditorium capable of seating over a thousand people, the discussion did not feel impersonal. The audience, consisting of about 50 people, was brought onto the stage where tables and food had been set out.

While munching on cookies and cake, those present were invited to look out over the empty seats of the theater and marvel at the view performers witness during each and every show. As the discussion began, Cario described the view as magical. Through the evening, the idea of magic persisted as one of the most important overarching themes.

The rest of “An Evening with Natasha Tsakos” focused on “Billion Billions,” which is currently expected to be performed in March or April of 2018.

As with her other works, such as “Quarry” or “Face Forward,” Tsakos plans to incorporate technology into the upcoming performance. Since it is still in early development, the extent of incorporation as well as what type of technology is to be used have yet to be decided.

In an attempt to answer her own question of “Why couldn’t theatre change the world?,” the main idea of Tsakos’ newest performance is the story of the last brain.

Alien quantonauts, who look suspiciously like astronauts, are attempting to discover all of human history by mentally dissecting this odd thing which they have discovered.

When asked whose brain it is or why, Tsakos replied that she did not know, so perhaps it does not matter. What does matter is that Tsakos intends for each performance of her show to be unique. These differences, which she assured the audience will be decidedly more than subtle, will be accomplished through the use of real-time data.

Throughout the evening, several short videos were shown. Two videos were conceptual representations of next year’s show. Being so far from the actual performance, “Billion Billions” is by no means a complete work as of yet, but the videos did manage to convey a sense of exploration and potential.

Tsakos herself described her upcoming work as a “real-time roller coaster” and hopes that it will live up to her intentions.

Another of the shorts shown was, of all things, a BMW commercial, which utilized body projection mapping. Using the commercial as a starting point, Tsakos and Cario discussed the possibilities opened by the use of such visuals in the upcoming performance.

Both seemed to be quite excited to announce that “Billion Billions” is intended to seamlessly merge the age-old customs of classic theatre with the brand new fields opening in the realm
of technology.

After their discussion was finished and the videos were shown, the structured nature of the event broke down into a more casual
atmosphere.

Tsakos and Cario began walking among the tables and talking with everyone, genuinely interested in the audience’s reactions and ideas concerning next year’s show.

While the nature of  “An Evening with Natasha Tsakos” was a bit unexpected, the performance that it heralds, “Billion Billions,” certainly shows potential and is worth keeping an eye on as
it develops.