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Homer Saves Humanity

Worst. Adaptation into a play. Ever. 


The apocalypse has come and gone, and to keep their minds off the end of the world, a group of strangers huddle in a cave collectively retelling a story from bygone times. It just so happens to be “Cape Feare,” an episode of The Simpsons—which eventually becomes a quasi-religious ritual that binds society together. Welcome to Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, presented this month by A.C.T. How did she come up with such an outlandish idea? Here, she explains.

What’s with the world ending?
“There was a period after 9/11 when it felt crazy to still be living in New York. Growing up in Berkeley, there was much discussion about the Big One in similar terms. Ultimate disaster has been on my mind for a long time, but thinking about it is oddly soothing.”

Do you really think that people would reenact a tv show?
“I thought about survival in not just physical but also mental and cultural terms. During the day we get provisions, but what do we do at night? Tell stories. And if civilization collapses before I see the finale of Breaking Bad, I’ll want to find someone who can tell me how it ended.”

Sure, but The Simpsons?
“We considered other shows: CheersFriendsMASH. But The Simpsons characters are appealing because they’re very much classic archetypes: Homer is the holy fool, Bart the wily trickster, Marge the eternal mother. Lisa, I suppose, would be the scholar or the mage. And the characters are eternal, never aging.”


Originally published in the February issue of San Francisco 

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