Shoestring Players Shed Light with ‘Post-Electric’ Play

Spartanburg, S.C. – The University of South Carolina Upstate’s Shoestring Players will present “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play” from March 1-4 in the Humanities and Performing Arts Center at 170 Gramling Drive on campus.

The play by Anne Washburn centers on a post-apocalyptic future in which a group of survivors, missing the comfort of electronic entertainment, try to recreate an episode of the long-running TV show The Simpsons – from memory. The three acts stretch over 75 years, tracing the evolution of the performance into a pageant.

The play is directed by Lee Neibert, chair of Fine Arts and Communications Studies.

“I was drawn to it when I read it. It’s a very fresh play, written and developed in 2012 and didn’t come off-Broadway until 2015 or ’16,” Neibert said. “I tend to gravitate toward works that are kind of fringe and kind of throw caution to the wind and kind of challenge traditional structures.”

Neibert said the play invites the audience to consider life in a post-digital age.

“Right now, we are so reliant on everything digital,” he said. “And we’ve all gone through a power outage – and we go crazy. We go ‘I need my TV,’ ‘I need my lights’ – that kind of thing. [The play] asks the question, what would happen if the grid goes down because of some kind of chemical warfare or nuclear warfare? No cell phones. No computers. What would we do? … It also tackles the question of when you take away the means of digitally preserving culture and history, what happens to it.”

Because the play covers more than seven decades, it requires a large cast. Neibert said the USC Upstate production includes 15 students, with a core of about half that many who appear in both the first and second acts. In addition, students are also filling many backstage roles, including set design, costume and makeup.

“It’s a really strong core of actors, and I’m really pleased with them, and of course the student-designers,” Neibert said.

He suggested the play is best-suited for mature audiences, because of some strong language and violence.

“Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play” will be performed at 8 p.m. March 1-3, with a matinee performance at 3 p.m. March 4. Tickets are $8 for general admission and $4 for students, faculty and staff, and may be purchased with cash or checks only. For more information, contact the box office at (864) 503-5695 or The box office is open from 1-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays.

The cast includes: John Gibbs of Lyman, as Matt and Homer; Gabrielle Sassone of Tuscon, Ariz., as Jenny and Marge; Jordan Montemayor of Piedmont as Maria and Lisa; Najee Joyner of St. Stephen, S.C., as Sam and Nelson; Brigitte Staggs of Woodruff as Colleen and Chief Wiggham; Kyle McIntyre of Spartanburg as Gibson and Bart; Jillian Wain of Boiling Springs as Quincy and Edna; Gabe Troski of Boiling Springs as Troy McClure; John Marshall Branham of Sharon as Willy; McCray Earls of Lugoff as Apu; Dexter Simmons of Clinton as Flanders; Jenna Lawson of Spartanburg as Itchy; Hope Phillips of Boiling Springs as Scratchy; Ryan Thompson of Boiling Springs as Crusty; and Damion Deslaurier of Gaffney as Mr. Burns.

IDs for photos: Shoestring Players perform a scene from "Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play." Pictured are Kyle McIntyre as Bart Simpson, Gabrielle Sassone as Marge Simpson, Jordan Montemayor as Lisa Simpson and John Gibbs as Homer Simpson.
Photo/Les Duggins Sr. /USC Upstate

About USC Upstate

The University of South Carolina Upstate is a regional, comprehensive university that offers more than 40 bachelor’s degree programs in the liberal arts and sciences, business administration, nursing, and teacher education, and master’s degrees in education, informatics, and nursing. These degrees help students to transition easily to careers in the Upstate region. USC Upstate is committed to fulfilling regional and state workforce needs and thus the university is a major engine of social and economic development. Comprised of a diverse and dynamic community of approximately 6,000 students from 26 states and 17 countries, USC Upstate is a wonderful blend of traditional and nontraditional students who reflect the Upstate’s rich international character. USC Upstate offers a balance of strengths that, when added up, results in a learning experience that is hard to match. The academic programs are accredited and highly ranked, with amazing research and internship opportunities for students. USC Upstate has its main campus in Spartanburg, the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics and the UPSTATE Gallery on Main in downtown Spartanburg, a location in Greenville, and a growing number of programs online. The USC Upstate Spartans, which fields 17 varsity sports, compete on the NCAA Division I level as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Nearly 30,000 alumni have earned degrees from USC Upstate and approximately 85 percent choose to remain in the Upstate region to build their lives and careers, making a significant impact of the region’s economy and quality of life. Learn more at

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