A man holds a woman's hand in a classroom
Krista Marushy and Geordie Cowan in How the World Began | Photo: Tara Whittaker

How the World Began

Fire Exit Theatre dives into the tension between religion and secular liberalism

Amy Jo Espetveidt

  • Location Engineered Air Theatre, Arts Commons  225 8th Ave. SE
  • Price $20 - $25
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Join Fire Exit Theatre as it stages this powerful story about an outsider in a close-knit, devastated community.

In it we meet Susan, a science teacher from Manhattan who starts work in a small rural Kansas town that’s been devastated by a tornado. When one of her pupils takes offence at an remark about how life on earth began, Susan is thrown into an ethical firestorm about science and faith.

On the surface the show explores the tension between religion and secular liberalism, specifically the debate between creationism and evolution, and how it is taught in schools. But deeper it’s also about human psychology and how people are driven to extreme positions in times of duress.

In the end, How the World Began is an in-depth character study.

“Although the context of the play is around evolution versus creationism, I don’t think that’s really what the play’s about,” says director Mark Lewandowski in a statement. “It’s about something that is perhaps more relevant than ever—the idea of actually listening to people with different views than our own. With so many controversial topics around us these days it’s easy to misunderstand and be misunderstood.”

Shrewd and compassionate, How the World Began is also perceptive and controversial while being very timely.

“It’s a challenging piece. There’s some strong language and complex ideas, but, like Mark, I think this is the perfect time to be telling this story. We need to get better at loving people when we don’t love their ideas… of trying to figure out how to separate the two,” says Artistic Director Val Lieske, in a statement. “We live in a complicated world with few easy answers and it would do us all good to listen to some people that may not come from our point of view. This is a lesson I’m trying to learn.”

How the World Began runs February 1 to 5, 2017 at the Engineered Air Theatre, Arts Commons (225 8th Ave. SE) and is suitable for ages 12 and up.