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Happy Birthday, Alien!

"Micro changes in air density, my ass." -- Ripley

The classic auteur horror film Alien turns 40 next month and with this birthday comes a controversial high school stage production of the film and a slew of academic papers with titles like, “Alien and race, ethnicity and otherness”; “Alien and psychoanalysis”; and “Alien and neoliberalism, post-industrialism and the rise of multinational corporations”. These papers will be published by Oxford University Press.

“It is quite astonishing how much academic work Alien has triggered and from such a wide range of approaches. For example, there are psychoanalytic analyses which stress the importance of the alien as a kind of all-consuming mother figure. The birth trauma of the alien erupting from Hurt’s innards also plays to Freudian interpretations of the film’s significance.”

-- David Sorfa of Edinburgh University

Additional Alien events will include the release of new Blu-ray versions of the film, and the screening of a documentary of its making, Memory: The Origins of Alien.

The event I’m most looking forward to is watching this great film for the umpteenth time. I was a 14 year old high school girl when I first witnessed such a strong badass female lead. We all wanted to be Ripley. I still do.

It is a rare horror film whose character development is just as strong as the scare factor.

The High School Controversy

Two days ago images of a stage version of Alien started appearing on Twitter. Theatre stalwarts from all over the globe were gleefully showing images of the North Bergen High School’s production. Then the video trailer started making the rounds.

“OMG this trailer. Look how diverse the cast is. It’s mostly young POCs. This is everything I’ve ever wanted theatre to be."

-- Diep Tran, Senior Editor of American Theatre magazine.

A couple of days later some writers took umbrage with the fact that the school did not secure the rights from Disney. The naysayers felt this was a damaging trend and not good role modeling for kids. The year before the same teachers adapted Night of the Living Dead without securing the rights.

Like most of us who have been producing theatre for a long time, you get away with not paying rights a couple of times and then realize if you want to be legit you better pay up.

I still owe Tom Stoppard some cash.

It takes a lot of imagination to get high school kids excited about theatre. I think these teachers are on to something. They can apply for rights next year.

"This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off."


McKie, Robin (24 March 2019) The Observer

Itzkoff, David (25 March 2019) The New York Times

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