It’s Feb. 1, 2003. Space Shuttle Columbia has just disintegrated upon re-entry. What kind of person would see this horrible disaster as an opportunity?
Meet Ed and Tony. On a quest for Shuttle parts — as souvenirs or possibly to sell on eBay — the two men journey through the Piney Woods of east Texas, arguing conspiracy theories, ridiculing Nazis, dissing English literature, confessing peculiar secrets, and contemplating their own failed existence.
Texas playwright Wolfgang Paetzel vividly remembers that day: “The Columbia disaster happened right over my house. I should have noticed the loud booms and rattling of windows, but I was too preoccupied chasing a screaming toddler. At that moment, in my own little universe, a poopy diaper was more pressing. ‘Falling Short’ features many folks in similar situations — but only one poopy diaper.”
In this multimedia piece, Ed and Tony will be played live by Drew Wheeler and Dr. Edmund B. Lingan, UT associate professor and chair of theatre and film, as they interact with video segments incorporating actors from both Texas and Ohio.
“East Texas has a distinct natural environment that is different from the rest of Texas,” said Lingan, who, like Paetzel, grew up in that area. “Wolfgang has done an amazing job of capturing the look and the language of the region, and he has really caught the essence of the people we grew up with.”
The production is directed by Lingan, with video segments created by Paetzel and UT alumna Megan Aherne, and set and lighting design by James S. Hill, UT professor emeritus of theatre.
The soundtrack showcases music from obscure Texas garage bands as well as Lone Star legends, including The Blanks, Texas Belairs, Ran, Homer Henderson, Sled, Culturcide, Roy Bennett, and The Peenbeets.
“Falling Short” will run Thursday through Saturday, July 20-22, in the UT Center for Performing Arts Center Theatre. All performances will be at 8 p.m. The doors will open one half hour prior to curtain.
Tickets are $15 at the door or in advance online here. Student tickets are $10 with a valid ID and are available only at the door.
For more information, go to glacity.org.