Theater performance artist and Pew Fellow Thaddeus Phillips developed and directed WHaLE OPTICS, an original full-scale theater work, for premiere at the 2011 FringeArts Festival. The Philadelphia Inquirer called the piece a story about "art, obsession, wonder, and deep sea adventure," involving a fiber optics station attendant, a UPS delivery woman, a librarian, a composer, and Carl Sagan. Juan Gabriel Turbay provided live music and recorded whale songs—sounds that the piece compares to our interconnected global network. Among Phillips' goals for this play were to examine the current super-saturation of information that characterizes our lives and to explore how this saturation may make us less rather than more connected as a culture. Because he often performs in his own work, Phillips also sought, by choosing not to appear in WHaLE OPTICS, to see more clearly how his work looks and feels to an audience.
Click here to see a short video of Thaddeus Phillips discussing WHaLE OPTICS, as well as some images from the show.