'Edmund and the Astronaut' a story of an unlikely friendship - Albuquerque Journal

‘Edmund and the Astronaut’ a story of an unlikely friendship

“Edmund and the Astronaut” will premiere at Fusion for a run through July 10. The play features a robot as part of the cast. (Courtesy of Fusion)

Six months ago, Ross Kelly and Sarah Loeppke were throwing around science fiction ideas for an upcoming play.

Luckily, one of them stuck, as the pair are presenting “Edmund and the Astronaut” at Fusion in Albuquerque. The show runs through July 10.

“We came up with the idea and were urged to apply for some arts grants,” Kelly says. “It’s been less than six months and we’re ready to open.”

They wanted to create a production that hasn’t been done before under their company JoyrKade.

Enter Edmund.

Edmund is not only one of the stars of the play, but he is a robot that was fabricated by Los Angeles-based Fonco Studios.

The play tells the story of an astronaut stranded in deep-space who finds a spaceship – and a robot inside.

Kelly and Loeppke say the it’s a story of unlikely friendship, a dark existential comedy, and a space adventure as Edmund and the Astronaut try and solve the mystery of their circumstance and find their way home. Jacqueline Reid is co-directing the play.

Loeppke says the play is the first from the team and is funded in part by a City of Albuquerque’s Urban Enhancement Trust Fund Resiliency Residency grant and a recent successful crowdfunding campaign.

The production will be a return to the stage where Kelly got his professional acting start in 2004. He acted in over 15 plays with Fusion Theatre Company, before leaving to focus on writing and producing.

Kelly has spent the last decade working as a line producer in Los Angeles.

The set design is inspired by Loeppke and Kelly’s shared love of science fiction, vintage design and robots. Having studied film at the University of New Mexico, Loeppke brings to the project 12-plus years of experience working in the film industry as a production designer and art director.

Behind the scenes, Edmund will be voiced by Kelly’s son, Elijah Kelly.

The pair created a series of short films together over the past two years and Kelly knew there was more to the dynamic of the characters they were playing that he wanted to explore.

The decision to create a play starring a robot came about after Kelly and Loeppke first began having conversations with Fusion Executive Director Dennis Gromelski.

Learning the various public health restrictions placed on live theater productions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they began to imagine productions that might better suit shifting and unpredictable restrictions.

“At that point we knew if there were multiple actors on the stage, masks were required. But if it was a performance with just a single actor on stage, they weren’t required to be masked,” Kelly says. “We thought, well, what if it was one actor and a robot?”

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