Scena Theatre to premiere play based on H.G. Wells’ ‘Time Machine’

A timely commentary on escalating conflicts between Russians and Ukrainians as well as harsh divisions between liberals and conservatives in the U.S.

Scena Theatre continues its 34th season with The Time Machine, an original stage adaptation of the landmark H.G. Wells novel, which influenced generations of science fiction writers. Artistic Director Robert McNamara is directing this one-man play featuring DC’s Ron Litman.

As DC’s premier international theater company, Scena Theatre aims to reflect current social and political events in its plays. The Time Machine is especially poignant now, given the Russian war against Ukraine. Once again, the people of planet Earth find themselves on the brink of a possible world war — with potential nuclear weapons being used to dominate part of the European continent. The Time Machine is a social commentary on the escalating conflicts between the Russians and Ukrainians — as well as the harsh divisions that now exist between liberals and conservatives here in the U.S. Never before in American history have our citizens been so divided and at odds.

Scena has a history of producing plays based on the work of H.G. Wells. The company previously staged an original adaptation of the 1938 radio play War of the Worlds! in 2010 and 2016 — as well as its European tour. Artistic Director McNamara has always loved and admired the incredible writing and imagination of H.G. Wells. “Wells is very theatrical in his writing, and his stories are larger than life. They encompass the possibilities of what might be — in both positive and negative future scenarios,” said McNamara. “So his intelligent, heartfelt stories are ideal for Scena to adapt for the stage. Now, more people in Washington can experience his fascinating tales presented in a highly dramatic way.”

Ron Litman in rehearsal for ‘The Time Machine.’ Photo courtesy of Scena Theatre.

The Time Machine begins in 1919 when a professor has created a time machine in New York Ci. He travels to several different eras in the future only to make the ultimate shocking discovery: in the year 800,000, all of humanity is divided and dying. There’s a tribe called the Eloi, “exquisite, fragile things” who enjoy a life of mindless abandon. And there’s the Morlocks, conniving “human spiders” who occupy the Underworld. The ultimate clash of these two cohorts puts civilization on the brink of destruction. Is this future adventure a prophecy? Or a nightmare? See this spellbinding, one-man play to find out.

The Time Machine plays through November 13, 2022 (Thursday to Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 3:00 pm), presented by Scena Theatre performing in Lab I at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE, Washington, DC. Purchase tickets ($15–$35) online.

Running Time: 75 minutes, no intermission.

COVID Safety: Masks are required to be worn by all audience members while in performance spaces (i.e. watching the show). Masks may be optional in other areas of the building, including lobbies. The use of N95 masks is encouraged. Atlas Performing Arts Center’s complete COVID Health and Safety Policy is here.

The Time Machine
Story by H.G. Wells
Adapted by Robert McNamara & Ron Litman
Directed by Robert McNamara

Ron Litman

Creative Team
Carl Gudenius (Set Designer), Alisa Mandel (Costume Designer), Michael Stepowany (Lighting Designer), Tom Pile (Videos / Visuals), Denise Rose (Sound Design), Anne Nottage (Assistant Director), TBA (Stage Manager), and Gabriele Jakobi (Dramaturg & Resident Director).

H.G. Wells (1866–1946) was an English novelist, journalist, teacher, sociologist, and historian. He wrote more than fifty novels and dozens of short stories. He is best known for his science fiction novels as The Time MachineThe Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds as well as such comic novels as Tono-Bungay and The History of Mr. Polly. He has been called the “father of science fiction.” Beyond his fame as a writer, he was prominent in his lifetime as a forward-looking, even prophetic social critic. A futurist, he wrote a number of utopian works and foresaw the advent of aircraft, tanks, space travel, nuclear weapons, satellite television, and something resembling the World Wide Web. His science fiction stories imagined time travel, alien invasion, invisibility, and biological engineering. Brian Aldiss referred to Wells as the “Shakespeare of science fiction”, while Charles Fort called him a “wild talent”.

SCENA Theatre brings the best international theater to Washington, DC, and stimulates cultural exchange between theater artists, locally and worldwide. Founded in 1987 under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert McNamara and Managing Director Amy Schmidt, SCENA produces an annual season of plays, seasonally staged readings, as well as a Workshop Series aimed at developing new works from around the globe.


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