The MU Theatre Department held a stage reading of “The Omnilvx Method,” the new play written by MU graduate student Taylor Sklenar at McKee Gymnasium on Friday, April 5. The reading was part of the Mizzou New Play Series, a weekend of stage readings. Instead of a fully produced play, stage readings involve the actors reading their lines on music stands while a narrator reads the stage directions.
“The Omnilvx Method” is the story of Jeanine, a young woman with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome who falls into a new-age religion that promises her a way to find true happiness. As Jeanine becomes a bigger and bigger follower of this religion, she pushes her family away. Tensions rise between the followers and their leader and Jeanine must decide between life as she knows it and the uncertain promises of her religion.
Sklenar has written various plays that incorporate bits of drama, comedy and science. “The Omnilvx Method” was just one of the four plays he was putting on as part of the New Play Series, the others all being shorter, one-act plays. Though he has had plays of his have run in big cities like Minneapolis, Sklenar enjoys the local theater community.
“In Columbia you don’t have quite the same quantity of theatres, but what is happening is fascinating.” Sklenar said. “On the whole Columbia’s a more tight knit community.”
Sklenar found in inspiration for “The Omnilvx Method” in the story of NXIVM, a multi-level marketing company whose founder was indicted on forced labor and sex trafficking charges.
“I became really interested, not just in the negative things that these sorts of groups produce, but also the ways in which people find fulfillment in that sort of thing,” Sklenar said.
Though Sklenar’s passion is theater, he also draws inspiration from science. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry, English and performance art from Iowa State University, and loves to work at the intersection of art and science.
“I’m really intrigued with thinking of theatre as a laboratory and the audience response as a unit of measurement,” Sklenar said.
Director Cat Priamos admires the various themes that Sklenar incorporates into his plays.
“He’s so inventive, and he has a really interesting mix of science and poetry,” Priamos said. “ I love bringing out the poetry in his work and giving it a space on stage.”
MU junior Tim Boykin appreciated Sklenar’s eerie tale.
“I found it interesting because it relates to real life and how you want to believe in something,” Boykin said. “But sometimes you need family to set you on the right path.”
Edited by Joe Cross | firstname.lastname@example.org