God Completely Fucked Up After Huffing Gaseous Planet (theonion.com)

THE HEAVENS—Having inhaled nearly every molecule of the thick green atmosphere, God, Our Heavenly Father, announced Monday that He was totally fucked up after huffing a gaseous planet. “Whoa, mama—what the hell was in that thing?” the Lord said, stumbling backwards into the planet’s moons and coughing violently after He had enveloped the celestial body in an immense paper bag and sucked in its churning storm systems in a single breath. “Methane and sulfur for sure, but I’ve huffed Venus a bunch of times before and never got the spins like this. Fuck me, I am wasted.” After vomiting into a black hole and passing out for six hours with a solar system pinned awkwardly under His lower back, the Almighty, suffering from a throbbing headache, vowed that going forward He would stick to getting high by snorting comet tails.

At 92, Peter Brook focuses on the present, onstage and in life

Peter Brook brings “Battlefield,” a distillation of his epic “The Mahabharata,” to ACT. Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle

Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle.  Peter Brook brings “Battlefield,” a distillation of his epic “The Mahabharata,” to ACT.

By Brandon Yu on May 1, 2017 (sfchronicle.com)

Commonly touted as the greatest living theater director, Peter Brook might be more impressively labeled as the greatest working one. At 92, the British author, filmmaker and master of the stage, Brook is still on the move.

His latest production, “Battlefield” — a 70-minute distillation of portions of the ancient Indian epic “The Mahabharata,” which Brook first brought fully to the stage to acclaim in 1985 — has been touring internationally since its Paris premiere in 2015, and is at American Conservatory Theater’s Geary Theater through May 21.

In contrast to the sprawling nine-hour eponymous production of “The Mahabharata” Brook staged in a quarry over 30 years earlier (and a Brook-directed film version in 1989), “Battlefield” is a minimalist, four-person one-act observing the aftermath of a great war for a throne that has left hundreds of millions dead. The victor and new king, Yudhishthira, searches for wisdom as he struggles to find solace in his crown amid the resulting bloodshed.

Clockwise from left: Jared McNeill, Carole Karemera, Ery Nzaramba and Sean O’Callaghan in “Battlefield.” Photo: Pascal Victor / ArtComArt

Photo: Pascal Victor / ArtComArt.  Clockwise from left: Jared McNeill, Carole Karemera, Ery Nzaramba and Sean O’Callaghan in “Battlefield.”

Adapted and directed by Brook and his longtime collaborator, Marie-Hélène Estienne, the work has played in small and large venues alike, including schools and prisons, and Brook will continue to traverse the globe with the production after its San Francisco run.

“We go where we’re invited,” Brook says. “We never say, ‘Take us.’

“This is perhaps the first lesson I learned in the theater: If you are lucky enough to do something that really seems to touch people, it’s your responsibility to go on playing it as long as there are people who call for it.”

This mentality is perhaps what has fueled Brook to continue creating after a decades-long career that has carved out some of modern theater’s singularly seminal moments: from the first English-language production of “Marat/Sade” in 1964 to the theatrical landmark of his 1970 radical rendition of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which came to ACT in 1973. Brook’s “The Mahabharata” was hailed for wrestling the epic, known as the longest poem ever, into a groundbreaking theatrical event.

But Brook, soft-spoken and unassuming, pays no mind to intimations of a grand legacy.

“F— that,” says the 92-year old with a cheeky smile. “My legacy is what at this moment I can bring.”

Neither does Brook care to assess the state of theater; to prognosticate on the future of the stage is like asking a chef to explain the future of food, Brook says. The present moment, the “here and now,” is where he resides and the space in which all theater exists.

“That’s why for us on tour, what happened last week, what happened in Washington, what happened in Madrid — these are all very rewarding and splendid experiences. But they’re over,” Brook says. “Tomorrow we will begin again. And it’s always — ‘begin again, now.’”

It may come as a surprise then that “Battlefield” draws again from the epic Sanskrit text Brook has explored before. But “Battlefield” is a far cry from his dusk-to-dawn 1985 work. The new one-act is sparsely staged, in contrast to earlier portions of Brook’s career that played with technical innovation and, Brook says, focused on imagery.

But the simplicity is not a starting point. “You have to go through excess of every sort,” he says. “I gradually discovered that the richest material was inside the human being. So then, my interest went more and more to the actors, a treasure trove of richness.”

Brook prefers to think of “The Mahabharata” as revisiting him and Estienne rather than the vice versa. The immediate themes of “Battlefield,” the consequences of war and the arbitrary meaning of ‘victory’ in its context, sprang up for Brook against the current backdrop of mass death such as that in the Syrian war.

The inspiration was found in the epic poem’s parallel to what Brook says is our modern responsibility to “do everything to our dying day to help rebuild the world.”

“What in this era of darkness and destruction, can possibly bring a glimmer of hope into the world?” Brook poses. “What can give one the courage to say, ‘No we mustn’t give up — we must go on?’”

But Brook in no way sees a stage production as a harbinger of revolutionary change, nor does he wish to say what reading ought to be made or what answers, if any, to expect from “Battlefield.” As one of theater’s loftiest figures, Brook adamantly shirks the role of the sage analyzing the stage or his works.

“I’m not here with a message. I’m not here to think I know better than anyone else,” Brook says. “But I do think that something emerges when things are shared. That’s what we were looking for (during the early days of Brook’s troupe, International Centre for Theatre Research) in an African village, an Iranian village, the streets of Brooklyn … where we feel for a moment something of meaning is being lived together.”

Works that are true and sincere, Brook says, unite an audience whose members invariably carry a set of differences and frustrations. “And living that strong experience together, when they come out, they don’t come out defeated. They come out with a little more courage than when they came in.”

As for what has kept him to this form of connection for decades, Brook cannot say except to feel useful to others if capable. But will there come a time when the stalwart steps away?

“Yeah,” Brook says and pauses for a while. “We’re all born to die. And the day will come when I’ll be taken away. That’s how it is.”

Brandon Yu is a Bay Area freelance writer.

Battlefield: Adapted and directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne. Through May 21. $25-$115, subject to change. ACT’s Geary Theater, 415 Geary St., S.F. (415) 749-2228. www.act-sf.org

Bill Nye: Is the Multiverse Theory Paradoxical, or Can We Test It? (bigthink.com)

The idea of a multiverse as we conceive of it was first mentioned by Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1952, who warned a lecture hall full of people that this may “seem lunatic”, but perhaps his equations did not show mere alternative versions of history, but alternatives all happening simultaneously. For this week’s question, Austin wants to know about the multiverses paradox: if every alternate timeline happens, and anything that can happen does—somewhere—then wouldn’t there be a universe that could not support the idea of any other universe existing? All multiverse hypothesis are as yet unverified by experiments, so it’s all up in the air. But if we ever want to find out, the way to do it is by supporting space exploration, because the more we find out about the cosmos, the closer we get to knowledge about our own origins and the greater our capacity grows for multiverse experimentation. Bill Nye’s most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.

Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/hey-bill-n…

Elon Musk TED talk: The future we’re building, and boring

TED TALKS 2017 : Elon Musk is the CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors and the CEO/CTO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).

Elon Musk: I think there’s — I look at the future from the standpoint of probabilities. It’s like a branching stream of probabilities, and there are actions that we can take that affect those probabilities or that accelerate one thing or slow down another thing. I may introduce something new to the probability stream. Sustainable energy will happen no matter what. If there was no Tesla, if Tesla never existed, it would have to happen out of necessity. It’s tautological. If you don’t have sustainable energy, it means you have unsustainable energy. Eventually you will run out, and the laws of economics will drive civilization towards sustainable energy, inevitably. The fundamental value of a company like Tesla is the degree to which it accelerates the advent of sustainable energy, faster than it would otherwise occur.

So when I think, like, what is the fundamental good of a company like Tesla, I would say, hopefully, if it accelerated that by a decade, potentially more than a decade, that would be quite a good thing to occur. That’s what I consider to be the fundamental aspirational good of Tesla.

Then there’s becoming a multiplanet species and space-faring civilization. This is not inevitable. It’s very important to appreciate this is not inevitable. The sustainable energy future I think is largely inevitable, but being a space-faring civilization is definitely not inevitable. If you look at the progress in space, in 1969 you were able to send somebody to the moon. 1969. Then we had the Space Shuttle. The Space Shuttle could only take people to low Earth orbit. Then the Space Shuttle retired, and the United States could take no one to orbit. So that’s the trend. The trend is like down to nothing. People are mistaken when they think that technology just automatically improves. It does not automatically improve. It only improves if a lot of people work very hard to make it better, and actually it will, I think, by itself degrade, actually. You look at great civilizations like Ancient Egypt, and they were able to make the pyramids, and they forgot how to do that. And then the Romans, they built these incredible aqueducts. They forgot how to do it.