A glimpse into UCSD's future

    Flash forward to the year 2030. Not “”two thousand and thirty,”” but “”twenty-thirty.”” Fewer syllables, sounds cooler. Let’s move on.

    Under continual pressure to expand funding to the sciences under increasing budget pressure, UCSD has axed other programs left and right. Scrambling for funding, all humanities and social sciences departments make a desperate bid for survival. Some seek protection under the communication department’s umbrella group.

    Due to the large payments of protection money from the growing Greek system, communication is able to weather the storm untouched. For frat boys and other genetic accidents of the nouveau-riche, communications is the only major that can offer the sort of uncritical grading environment needed for proper esteem development. As such, it has become a budgetary sacred cow.

    The once-illustrious theatre department was the first to go. After the North American Free Trade Agreement II, much of the prime acting talent went south to the cutting-edge departments at UC Mexicali, UC Cabo San Lucas and UC Offshore Oil Rig. It turns out that deep-sea divers have a taste for Bertolt Brecht that borders on the insatiable. After the failed fundraiser to save the department — a nude revue of “”Waiting For Godot”” showcasing the premier model of the Mitsubishi Galant in the role of Pozzo — all hopes for the department died. The tone of the show’s reviews bordered on genocidal rage.

    At the commencement of budget-cutting season, it was decided that all stage-related materials that could not be sold on http://craiglist.com would be melted down and used in the fashioning of the Next Generation Sun God statue, a giant bust of Chancellor Robert C. Dynes. The five theatre majors with the highest GPAs would be given three-month internships as local hockey team mascots, and 25 runners-up would be entered in a fixed raffle for expired coupon books to the defunct Fins fish taco eatery.

    At this point, what was left of the theatre department went underground, cooperating with the Visual Arts Liberation Front and the scattered emo guerrillas to stage impromptu mime-bys of lab sessions, faculty luncheons and campus tours. While UCSD students soon became relatively accustomed to the baffling political incorrectness of white face paint, incoming freshmen were terrified by the mimes’ antics, often paranoid that the entire campus was teeming with a network of invisible walls, “”claustrophobia-boxes”” and trap-door elevators that led to underground torture chambers. Only the torture chambers actually existed, but it was campus policy to tell all undergraduates that humans were only used in research when absolutely necessary and that they were always killed humanely.

    It was at this point that The Purge began. Community Service Officers were converted to several cadres of cultural sedition operatives, armed with an array of non-fatal weaponry and told to tear gas and subdue anyone speaking enthusiastically to strangers. Video cameras used for any purpose other than the making of “”Jackass”” and “”Girls Gone Wild”” imitations were confiscated. Vegans were sent to detox. Gay men were forced to conform to “”flaming”” stereotypes. Jazz fans had to defend their music taste in public struggle sessions loaded with rabid Ja Rule fundamentalists. Rumors circulated of “”Clockwork Orange””-like reeducation camps, where women’s eyes were forced open with botox to view Celine Dion Cellulite Aid telethons.

    After The Purge, the political climate began to change. There was a general feeling that the university had gone too far in suppressing dissent. While even the most radical members of the administration grudgingly acknowledged that reviving the theater department was campus suicide, many also felt that the role of theatre was valuable for promoting cultural values and providing an outlet for student creativity.

    Finally, it was decided that theatre would be reestablished as a sub-department of biology, it being a “”life science”” and all.

    That brings the story to May 9, 2030, the debut of Bio-Theatre’s first play “”Bioinformatics: The Musical,”” featuring a show-stopping song-and-dance extravaganza “”Protein Chain Tango”” and the heartrending ballad “”The Genome is a Total Set of Love;”” “”Bioinformatics”” has been hailed as the rebirth of contextualist theater. One exasperated critic called it “”the advanced computer simulation community’s answer to ‘The Merchant of Venice.'””

    As the curtain rose, the crowd’s conversations lowered to a hush, except for the dull drizzle of fingers on text-messaging pads, which sounded like cool spring rain on a geodesic dome. As the lights went up, the music began, harps trilling as dozens of walking pills and pathogens filed on stage. Then the music changed into something by Phillip Glass that sounded like ping-pong balls in blender. Costumes fell away to reveal men and women in biohazard suits, carrying spray cans labeled “”Mind Expansion.””

    As the audience glanced toward the exits, they saw the security guards open their riot gear helmets to reveal kabuki masks, as they locked the exits. That was when the trouble began.

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