The Gift

A collaboration with Dr. Natalie Gosnell, Professor of Astrophysiciscs at Colorado College

‘The universe is a place of many stories. To you, a library; to me, a galaxy...What came to pass, it happened in barely half a million years. For you, for your lifetime, that might be five minutes, or ten. What came to pass, in that bare collection of instants, changed the character of my life forever.’

--The Gift

The Gift is an intimate, social performance experience that merges the private pleasure of reading with choreographed collective action to explore themes of partnership and care. The subjects of our story are a blue straggler star and its companion. To our naked eye, these two stars might appear to be a single point of light, but they are actually two objects; the blue straggler burns brighter and bluer and looks younger, while the companion is a star at the end of its life.

As each participant enters the world of The Gift, someone greets them there. Together, the new participant and their companion share an audio experience of the world they have entered. At the end of the experience, their companion hands over a handmade, illustrated book, and the new participant in the world reads and interacts with the book’s various magical and pop-up elements, in their own time. Once they finish the book, they become someone else’s companion, greeting a new participant at the entrance to the world. Thus, participants cycle asynchronously throughout this performance experience—reading privately while witnessing and gifting for one another.

The Gift is a relaxed performance, intended to meet a variety of access needs through techniques like multi-sensory storytelling, opt-in-and-out immersion, and participant-chosen pacing. Intended for participants ages 12 and up, The Gift offers a new way of experiencing science that transforms complex, cutting-edge research into a playful, feminist, and accessible encounter with the wonder of astrophysics.

The work is currently in development with support from Innovation at Colorado College, the Public Theater in New York City, Brooklyn College, and the Tow Foundation. Additional notes on my collaboration with Dr. Natalie Gosnell are at our shared site, Abundant Space Collaborative.

See the project trailer below, and a one-pager for the project here.