Sara's childhood dream is coming true <3
Sara Mountjoy-Pepka is co-directing Encounter at Impro Studio. The Ripleys asked her questions so that you can get to know one of our amazing directors and what inspired her to work on Encounter. We hope you get to learn more about Sara, her love of sci-fi, and cool secrets about the show!!
At what age did you get interested in sci-fi?
As early as I remember. My dad was a big fan of Star Trek (original series) and The Outer Limits as a little boy in the 60's...so he raised us on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and later Deep Space Nine and Voyager, as the Saturday night family ritual. The movie Apollo 13 was a big impact at a young age as well and I started saving up money for space camp (I never went -- it took me five years to save $500 and at that point my family was too broke to afford the plane tickets -- they offer adult space camp and it's still a goal to attend). For 4th grade, I moved to a new school, and in order to make friends, I joined the Star Wars Club (without ever having seen the movies, totally faked my knowledge for weeks until I was able to borrow the VHS. I remember bringing home Return of the Jedi and planning how to explain Princess Leia's gold bikini outfit to my mom in a way that she'd still let me watch it, because we were super Christian. It was a shock to learn she'd seen the movies, and that these were actually very well known movies that I had never heard of because my dad doesn't care for Star Wars as the rival of Star Trek and thus banned it from the house. Dad takes extreme measures like that in all life categories). For two years, I was Chewbacca in big battles on the schoolyard hill every recess. By the time I hit middle school, I was reading all the Star Wars novels and discussing it with no one.
What are your favorite sci-fi stories? Why do they speak to you?
I love sci-fi that includes hope for mankind. The genre shows us our future, and I like focusing on a future in which we have proactively faced the oppression of the present day: climate change, racism, capitalism, sexism. So I always return to Star Trek, which gives me so much hope for our future (while acknowledging we have a devastating WWIII ahead of us before we can make First Contact with the Vulcans). Similarly, the Ender's Game series has made a lasting impact with me thanks to the concept of the Speaker for the Dead, the person who tells the story of a person's life from a completely honest angle, rather than through the lens of legacy or blame. I often look at people in my life, close and acquaintance alike, and wonder what Ender would see in and say about this person at their funeral. Does this mean I'm consistently looking at my friends and family and thinking about their funerals? Yes. Yes it does. I'm so sorry, all of you. For what it's worth, I'm also thinking about my own.
How did you two come up with the show, Encounter?
We were inspired by three different sources: Alien (the movie), Arrival (the movie, and the source short story Story of Your Life), and Annihilation (the book). First of all, it's great marketing that they all begin with the letter A. But set that aside, they each tell the story of a woman facing an unknown force from a completely different angle and tone, and we happen to loooooove all three. We were so inspired by the idea of, not just recreating three separate genres, but producing a brand new genre that drew from all three of these exquisitely distinct voices, gene-spliced them together, and allowed that genre-mash-up to breed something entirely unplanned. What happens when you put horror, space, science, family ties, dystopia, climate theory, and "the new weird" into one pot and let it boil? We'll find out during the shows!
Are you coming to the show on October 4th? Do you want to help make Sara’s dream come true?