On November 6, 2019

Rutland High School grad tests playwriting skills

By Virginia Dean

Rutland High School graduate Andrew Michael Tarr from the class of 1986 has always been involved in music and drama in some way but now likes to call himself a “multi-hyphenate” because of the myriad venues in which he has found himself since leaving the Rutland Raiders.

One of those avenues includes being a playwright and creating scripts through which his theatrical plays come to life because of the expertise of his own direction.

Enter RHS’ Encore Theater’s upcoming weekend presentation of “Re:Peter,” a play that takes place in Rutland — or Killington Valley as it is called in the year 2040 — in which the main character (Peter) has been forced into retirement due to his age.

“Yes, I’d characterize ‘Re:Peter’ as sci-fi,” said Tarr, who wrote the play. “I’m a fan of sci-fi, specifically futuristic sci-fi. But my chief complaint is that the vast majority of stories set in the future portray a dystopian vision of what’s to come for humanity. As a guy who looks to the future with hope and excitement, this aspect of the sci-fi world has always bummed me out. But when a story emerges with a happy ending that includes scientific advances that make life better for the human race, I get excited.”

Tarr’s audience, however, will not know about the ending – whether it’s positive or negative – until the actual ending. In the meantime, viewers can look forward to a coming= of-age story with the recognition that no matter how old, everyone is coming of age in some way during their lifetime.

“Life is a constant unfolding of new discoveries about ourselves and the world,” said Tarr. “I’ve personally interviewed some of the top researchers in the study of the aging process and the consensus is that we will cure aging at some point. There are differing opinions on the timeline but many are projecting it to happen in the 2030s or 2040s.”

So, perhaps not surprisingly, “Re:Peter” is set in late 2039 when Peter, a high school nerd turned respected adult geneticist,  is at the age of forced retirement from the biotech corporation in which he’s spent his life but takes his outside secretive research with him on the day he is forced to leave. His independent investigation has to do with a new way to rejuvenate organisms, including humans.

“This is based on real science that’s currently being pursued,” Tarr said. “We’re probably a long way from the time that human rejuvenation is possible but, if it does happen by 2040, we’re in store for some pretty major changes in our world.”

Although the play doesn’t delve deeply into anti-aging therapies, it does emphasize the character of Peter and his journey down what Tarr calls “the bleak road toward old age and the disappointments he has accumulated”.

“His quest to ‘reset’ is something that will ultimately give everyone the ability to live the lives of their dreams without the rug being pulled out from under them, thread by thread,” said Tarr. “I chose to give Peter a single, silver bullet that resets a body to a youthful state in one full swoop. I opted to be a little less scientifically accurate in exchange for something I felt would work better dramatically.”

Indeed, Peter — and other characters in the play — is ultimately able to repeat his life. Hence, the double meaning of the title “Re:Peter” (repeater).

“My original title was, ‘The Reset Button ‘but I like ‘Re:Peter’ better because I wanted the focus to be more on the character than on the medical therapy he has invented,” said Tarr.

Even so, Tarr has long been interested in the topic of rejuvenation. His wife, Alison, works in medical research involving clinical trials of pharmaceutical compounds and medical devices.

“We like to say she’s a life scientist who’s interested in the arts, and I’m an artist who’s interested in the life sciences,” said Tarr.

So, in addition to studying life and organisms through the eyes of a master of craft, Tarr has acted, performed as a stand-up comedian and became an editor, writer and producer.

“I worked at Fox Sports for a while as well as E! Entertainment television,” said Tarr. “My bread and butter for years was in local TV out here in L.A. I produced and hosted several shows, my favorite of which was an animal show that included interviews with people who adopted pets from local animal shelters.”

In his local TV years, Tarr modestly acknowledged winning a few Emmy nominations and one Emmy award for his series, “The City Guy,”for a piece called Laws of Physics. He also won a Telly Award for his animal show, “The Home Shopping Petwork” in addition to being honored by the then-mayor of L.A. (Antonio Villaraigosa) on the steps of City Hall for helping to increase pet adoption.

Currently, Tarr is setting up his own production company called Interrupting Cow that will make comedies and thrillers for a web network for streaming boxes.

“It’s sort of a wild west right now with a lot of opportunity for makers of more outside-the-box entertainment companies,” said Tarr. “2020 hopefully will be a very exciting year for me.”

Tarr, who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting at Boston University, resides in L.A. with his wife, Alison, who he met at B.U.; 7-year-old son Dashiell River; 9-year-old Emory Echo; and dogs Dylan Jane and Jasper.

‘Re:Peter’ will be performed Nov. 14-16 at the RHS theater at 7 p.m. The show is family friendly.

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