The Rogue Aviator

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Otherworld Theatre debuts their dieselpunk adventure The Rogue Aviator. Aviatrix Ellie McCloud battles Sky Pirates and fights for the freedom of the oppressed citizens of the floating city of Olympus.

The play runs May 20 through June 10, 2017. It will be held in the New Strawdog Theatre, 1802 W Berenice Ave, Chicago, IL. Keeping with Otherworld’s believe in accessibility, tickets are “pay what you can” with a suggested $20 price. Tickets and times are available at

The artistic ensemble was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

1. How large is The Rogue Aviator’s cast?

Director of Development, Dylan Schaefer: The Rogue Aviator has a cast of 15, including our understudy.

2. In an alternate 1930s, how does Olympus fit into world that is post-Prohibition but in the midst of the Great Depression?

Playwright, Nick Izzo: Though Olympus is part of the U.S, it is in many ways more akin to a colony and so it hasn’t truly been affected by the depression, not the higher ups anyway, as it is run by cheap labor and keeps the oil and steel barons in business which benefits those at the top of the hierarchy.  For those at the bottom: large groups of disenfranchised laborers, machinists, and engineers sold everything they had to get to Olympus and get a fresh start in the city of the future (not unlike the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath migrating to California, except with a dirigible instead of a jalopy), only to find a world of indentured servitude in the bowels of the floating city victims of a system designed to keep the working class in their place, endlessly toiling to keep Olympus in the sky.

3. What sorts of inventions are going to make the Rogue Aviator world reflect a dieselpunk aesthetic?

Dylan Schaefer: For one, most of the play takes place on the floating city of Olympus. The set design is going to incorporate lots of iron, gears, and 30’s looking high-end tech. There is, for instance, one character who has a bionic arm because he lost his real one in combat. The sound design will also incorporate modern influences on 30’s era music and sounds. In this alternate history, the United States began building flying airships as early as the Spanish American War. One of them (The USS Triumphant) is stolen by the villain of the story and used to attack Olympus.

4. It sounds like there is a bit of Metropolis in Ellie’s background. Is there costuming that will reflect the difference in her status, the citizens of Olympus and the Sky Pirates?

Costume designer, Stefanie Sajib-Johnsen: Stefanie the costumer here! Tiffany Keane Schaefer, our director, put together a fantastic morgue of how she saw the characters and Olympus. What I took from it is that Ellie is a real rebel heart, less flash and more of a cool Han Solo type. Basic leather aviator jacket, room for her weapons and the freedom to fly her craft! Sky pirates will have a classic pirate look with straps, vinyl, baroque coats to indicate their wild nature while citizens of Olympus will be more buttoned up, cleaner silhouettes of the pre-WWII shape. And, as steampunk and dieselpunk dictate, lots of extra buckles, gears and gadgets. And a bionic arm.

5. The Positron Chicago quote on your webpage says that “Elaborate stage combat is one of the main things you’ll walk away remembering.” What kind of battles can we expect from The Rogue Aviator?

Fight Director, Kai Young: They can expect the same type of riveting swashbuckling that we’re known for. Swords, knives, a cane that turns into a sword, and even a big wrench will all be used as weapons in hand to hand combat! There are group battles and epic duels, performed mostly by the female characters in the show. We’ve also begun to delve in previously unexplored territory for us: live gunfire. This won’t be an easy show to fall asleep during.

Bonus question: The Otherworld Theater Company was founded in June 2012. Barring cease and desist letters, what sci-fi or fantasy classics would you want to take on?

Literary Manager, Elliott Sowards: It’s a good question. I’m always looking for Sci-Fi or Fantasy classics and new published works that would adapt well to the stage. Obviously we’d love to do our own adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, it was Otherworld’s debut performance and I’d love to be able to perform it for a full run rather than just a three-day festival. I know Tiffany has always wanted to tackle Tolkien and I’d love to adapt some of the fantasy stories of Chicago native Fritz Leiber. We’ve looked strongly into an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, I think Asimov’s short story Robbie from I, Robot would make a great children’s play and we have a great twist on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that we’re kicking around. There’s such a huge treasure trove of wonderful Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels in print that we could adapt plays forever, if money and rights were not an issue. I think as the company continues to grow you’ll definitely start to see more adapted works from us.


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