By Marissa Garcia
In an effort to digest the future of humanity and the environment, Maiza Hixson a graduating Master of Fine Arts student, held a reading of her first written play Chimera at the Art, Design and Architecture Museum.
Chimera is a “dystopian fiction tragi-comedy set in 2050” that explores “our desire of a technological utopia that is supported by human greed and inevitable climate change,” Hixson said.
The lively reading was recently delivered to an intimate audience with the help of Hixson’s professors and students, who embodied their characters with ease. The play reading was held in conjunction with the opening of the 2019 MFA thesis exhibition Temporary Clash.
As part of her MFA thesis, Hixson’s playwriting is only one element in a multimodal creative production. Chimera includes paintings, music and and sculptural props that correspond to themes in the play. Her visual elements will be on display at the museum until June 2.
As for the play itself, Hixson was inspired by the “culture and conflict” that circulates today. For example, Chimera opens with a raging wildfire that takes place in two very familiar-sounding California coastal towns, San Losiento and Monterico. The play on words represents the power struggle between civilians in places like Santa Barbara and Montecito when it comes to the resources available during a climate change climax.
The protagonist in the play, Allie Richards, is a poor fire refugee who gets hired by Dr. Thalon Markowski to help him program his firefighting cyborg AICH, the Artificially Intelligent Contradictory Hybrid at his technology company SmartLab.
With no place to stay, Allie moves in with Thalon and his wife creating a love triangle that eventually gets interrupted by AICH. While gushing over Allie’s beauty, Thalon uses her to program AICH, who he secretly intends to use to satisfy his intellectual, sexual and domestic needs.
Along with the technological revolution, affordable housing and climate change, the play also examines waves of feminist ideals and how they play out in 2050.
“In Chimera, I attempt to re-examine and portray the turmoil, loneliness and erasure women have endured to chart a course for women’s equality and inclusion in male-dominated spheres,” wrote Hixson in her MFA thesis.
Hixson is committed to seeing the play staged. She is anxious to collaborate with technologists to make AICH, the robot, while she continues her studies by pursuing a PhD in the Theater and Dance Department at UCSB.
Marissa Garcia is a fourth-year Sociology major and Professional Writing minor at UC Santa Barbara. She is a Web and Social Media Intern with UC Santa Barbara’s Division of Humanities and Fine Arts.