‘Orchids to Octopi’ blends art and science in multimedia spectacle

"Orchids to Octopi" explores scientific themes. Courtesy Ted Simpson

Tufts’ Department of Drama and Dance’s newest production “From Orchids to Octopi: An Evolutionary Love Story” (first performed in 2010) explores the relationships between science and art, faith and logic and family and independence. The show follows Emma — an artist struggling to paint the perfect mural capturing Charles Darwin’s legacy — trying to balance her art, her marriage and her desire for a family. The play depicts the parallel marriages of Emma and her husband, and that of Charles and Emma Darwin. Fusing dreams and reality, Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” comes to life; the show uses “the entire theater as a canvas,” director and department faculty member Natalya Baldyga said.

Written by Boston’s Melinda Lopez, “Orchids to Octopi” is a bold choice for Baldyga, who also collaborated with various artists to create an innovative, multimedia production. Puppeteer Faye Dupras designed and crafted puppets with Tufts students to create an interactive experience. The set, which reflects Emma’s artistic progression, was a collaboration between Baldyga and the drama department’s Head of Design, Ted Simpson.

“[The show] will be incredibly entertaining, thoughtful, intelligent,”  Balch Arena Theater manager Joanne Barnett said. “It will make people think but will also entertain them while they’re thinking.”

“It’s a very, very smart show, and it has a lot of big ideas in it,” Baldyga said. “It riffs on the evolution of a person, the evolution of a relationship and the evolution of the human species. My vision has been to try to allow [the audience] to explore those themes in a truly magical environment.”

Senior Kendrick Terrell Evans  — who plays the Carnival Barker — agrees that “the show is equal parts scientific and fun … it will take you out of reality for 90 minutes.”

The show opens Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. and runs until Nov. 1. Tickets are $10 with a valid Tufts ID and $15 for general admission, except for the special evening of Oct. 30 when all tickets are $1. That night’s performance includes a talkback and dinner with the playwright (reservations are required). Tickets can be purchased at the Aidekman box office or by calling (617) 627-3493.