Hansen, Marder, and Scheider Riffing on Immortality in 'The Summit'

An experimental performance that will premiere tomorrow at Guild Hall
Tucker Marder, Isla Hansen, and Christian Scheider, left to right, met every Sunday for a year to develop “The Summit,” which will have its premiere tomorrow at Guild Hall. Durell Godfrey

The human imagination has grappled with the idea of cheating death at least since the Sumerian “Epic of Gilgamesh,” in which the king sets out on a quest for immortality after the death of a friend. Narratives of everlasting life have taken root in religion, mythology, literature, philosophy, and folklore, from the Garden of Eden to Transylvania to Silicon Valley, where high-tech research aims to turn myth into reality.

The interdisciplinary artists Isla Hansen, Tucker Marder, and Christian Scheider will present their own take on transhumanism, the idea that the human race can transcend its physical and mental limitations, in “The Summit,” an experimental performance that will premiere tomorrow at Guild Hall and continue through Sept. 9.

Inspired in part by Blake Edwards’s 1968 comedy “The Party” and the Netflix sci-fi series “Black Mirror,” “The Summit” is set in 2081 on a night when several of the Silicon Valley elite prepare to achieve virtual immortality by uploading their consciousness. However, things go awry over the course of the party, which turns into a night of hedonistic and slapstick revelry.

“All three of us have an interest in the intersection of technology and human hubris,” said Mr. Scheider. “When Tucker told us about transhumanism, we all laughed at first, and then I realized how archetypal a concept it was. . . . From there, we began to riff on that ethical conundrum of the elite being able to afford to live forever.”

“The Summit” is the second collaboration of Ms. Hansen, Mr. Marder, and Mr. Scheider. In 2015 the trio reinterpreted Kurt Vonnegut’s novel “Galapagos” in a staged production at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill. Andrea Grover, now Guild Hall’s executive director, was curator of special projects at the Parrish at that time.

“When she took her new position at Guild Hall, Andrea and Josh Gladstone, the artistic director of the John Drew Theater, suggested we do an original piece with them,” said Mr. Scheider. “It is a monumentally complex production to mount, and so we were really impressed by their willingness to put up with everything we asked of them.”

“The Summit” incorporates more than 30 artists working together in performance, painting, dance, puppetry, live music, practical effects, as well as set, costume, and prop design. Projections throughout the theater will stream live from the venue’s garden, balcony, and box seats. 

“ ‘The Summit’ represents a culmination of many influences and styles and genres and mediums,” said Mr. Scheider. “This kernel of transhumanism flowered into myriad different and bizarre expressions.”

All three artists live in Los Angeles. Ms. Hansen is an assistant professor at University of California Los Angeles Design Media Arts. Mr. Marder is an artist and filmmaker who uses humor and absurdity to promote an environmental ethic. Mr. Scheider is an independent filmmaker, theater director, and actor whose work imagines new forms of society.

“The Summit” will be performed Tuesdays through Sundays at 8 p.m., except for Sept. 9, when show time is 2 p.m. Tickets range from $20 to $75, $18 to $70 for members. A V.I.P. ticket for $250 includes a premium seat for the Saturday performance, a backstage tour with the creators of the show, and an after-party.