Cloudbanks

Josh Kery (2020)

Originally intended for presentation at the CMU School of Art’s Senior Capstone exhibition, this play by 4th-year undergraduate Josh Kery was repurposed into a virtual one due to the COVID-19 crisis, and performed live on May 2, 2020 via Zoom Webinar. This play is a work of active transformation; born out of curiosity for our imagined futures and given new meaning in a world where connection is coded by isolation. Cloudbanks embraces the unknowns of art in the wake of social distancing and explores what happens to our relationships when filtered through a screen. This project was supported in part by Microgrant #2020-050 from the Frank-Ratchye Fund For Art @ the Frontier, and the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry’s Residency in Your Room Fellowship.

Now that human memories are completely converted to digital files, we can remember everything. Real-world limitations on resources and space, however, mean that our long-term memories come at immense financial cost. So like all of us, the Kohl family faces a decision when they lose their father but not his memories. His life’s recordings are stored on an Amazon Urn ® that’s too expensive to keep. The mother of the family wants to donate the memories to The Museum of Family Records, which is more than happy to take them. But her children are still attached to what they have left of their Dad. It’s the day of the donation, and someone must decide what to do with their father.

Kery writes: “Over fifty years into the future, memory is digital—at a cost. Faced with mounting data storage fees, Nancy and her two children, Diana and Emmett, argue over donating Howard, an AI containing their deceased father’s memories, to a museum curator. When memory is eternal but space is limited, what do we hold dear? What happens when grief is an emotional, physical, and digital burden? What does it cost to store, lose, forget, move on? How do we make room for the future, and what do we pass down to our children?”

Cast:
Nancy: Jacqui Fashimpaur
Diana: Julianna Austin
Max: Ayda Ozdoganlar
Emmett: Darien Weems
Howard: Reece Grover

Production Team:
Written by: Joshua Kery
Directed by: Sabrina Zanello Jackson
Stage Manager: Annika Evens
Costume Design: Hannah Fitzgerald & Josh Kery
Set Design: Lumi Barron, Shori Sims & Josh Kery
Technology: Brian D. Yeskey / CMU Media Services
Production Managers: Bryanna Joelle and Rebecca Enright

Presented by New Works Coffeehouse
Artistic Directors: Bryanna Joelle and Rebecca Enright