Preview: The world premiere of “Launch Day (Love Stories from the Year 2108)”

Ethan Henry, Contributing Writer

Theatre Tuscaloosa, a community theatre partnered with Shelton State Community College, premiered “Launch Day (Love Stories from the Year 2108)” on Thursday, Oct. 20, with shows performing through Oct. 30. The science fiction story, written by Chicago playwright Michael Higgins, draws upon both comedy and drama to tell various stories set in the future. Tickets are available at Theatre Tuscaloosa’s website for $19 for adults and $14 for students who do not attend Shelton State Community College. 


Who: Theatre Tuscaloosa and Shelton State Community College 

What: World Premiere of “Launch Day (Love Stories from the Year 2108)” 

When: Oct. 21-30, most times are either at 2 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. depending on the day 

Where: Bean-Brown Theatre at Shelton State Community College 


The play imagines the stories of various couples attempting to build successful lives and relationships in a futuristic world. Along the way, audiences will encounter an artist who receives an advertising chip implant in her brain, and a futuristic weapons dealer with an artificially intelligent robotic arm.  

Steven Yates, an associate professor in the Department of Library and Information Studies at The University of Alabama, will play the role of Grevin, a zookeeper in the future. 

“He runs the zoological facility that has created all these genetic mutations, so they’ve got these combinations of animals that we can’t even think about now,” Yates said. 

Yates, who has found ways to balance being both an accomplished professor and an actor, said the play raises many thought-provoking questions about the role technology will play as society progresses. 

“How are we making sense of this technology that might be getting smarter than us? What does that look like?” Yates said. 

Several of the actors, including Gabriel M. Carson, a Shelton State alumnus, said it was exciting for the cast to work directly with Michael Higgins.  

Higgins worked with Theatre Tuscaloosa for several days in order to make sure their production captured his original vision. After all, other casts in the future will likely imitate elements of this first production.  

As one might expect, the fact that “Launch Day” is a new play created both pressure and opportunity for the actors involved. 

“You can’t Google or YouTube other people who’ve done it before and copy what they do. You have to come up with it on your own,” said Hallie Grace Hamner, a local preschool teacher who plays the character Brittley. 

Most of the actors and actresses in the play welcomed the challenge of taking on sci-fi roles for the first time. One such role is Quillney, a no-nonsense space cop played by Shelton State liberal arts student Ebony Wesley. 

Wesley, who participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in high school, has used her background to bring Quillney to life. 

“She kind of keeps herself protected. She doesn’t want anyone to see that vulnerability in her, which is what a lot of people in ROTC had to build. So, they’ve got to hide their vulnerability in order to see themselves as strong all the time,” Wesley said. 

A shortened version of Launch Day will be performed on Nov. 6 as an entry in ACTFest 2022-2023, which will also be held at Shelton State. This performance is also part of the American Association of Community Theatre’s NewPlayFest 2022.