A Sci-fi Lecture | Performance | Style Weekly

It would be easy to assume that “Cultured Cell Culture,” a live multimedia presentation in the form of a science lecture, would be about cell memory in cultured cell meats.

What might be surprising, however, is what else the presentation -which includes original music, artwork and animation- touches on. Monarch butterflies, agricultural reform, proactive approaches to further human evolution, Abraham Lincoln, cruelty-free cannibalism, space aliens, and people who are better than we are.

Cory McAbee, a writer, director, songwriter, and co-composer for the award-winning feature films “The American Astronaut,” “Stingray Sam,” and “Crazy and Thief,” as well as singer for the musical group, The Billy Nayer Show, wears many hats.

“Cultured Cell Culture” is the third lecture in McAbee’s sci-fi series, after “Deep Astronomy” and “The Romantic Sciences and Sentimental Systems Reform,” and it’s coming to Firehouse Theatre for one night only, on Monday, Oct. 3.

McAbee performs these lectures at science museums, universities, galleries, theaters, nightclubs, and film festivals throughout the U.S., including the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and the San Francisco International Film Festival. “Cultured Cell Culture” is being presented live at the Firehouse as part of McAbee’s 2022 I Butterfly Festival.

The original inspiration for sci-fi events presented as lectures occurred in 2012 when McAbee began the global arts collaborative, Captain Ahab’s Motorcycle Club, with the intention of creating a feature film.

“During that time, I released a solo album called ‘Small Star Seminar’ and the artists involved in the collaboration began focusing their work on ideas from that album, so I geared my efforts toward what they were interested in and came up with the idea of ‘Deep Astronomy,’” he explains. “I later began merging the musical performances with science lectures based on that theme.”

Captain Ahab’s Motorcycle Club started as a way to incorporate all the offers that McAbee had received from artists and fans throughout the years. “The original projects were graphic design and music, with the end goal of creating a film,” he says from a cross-country bicycling ride in late September. “Our film ‘Deep Astronomy and the Romantic Sciences’ premiered last night in New York City as part of our I Butterfly project.”

Attendees of the Firehouse event can expect a lecture presented as entertainment in front of original animation, graphics and music created for the piece by the self-taught musician. He has the performances documented because he’s again collecting material for a possible feature film.

“I hadn’t seen a sci-fi lecture with music, art and animation done before,” he says of the project’s genesis. “The footage that we’re collecting on the I Butterfly tour will hopefully be used in a new collaborative feature.”

His presentation ideas, he says, are inspired by his own endless curiosity.

Just don’t call them performance art, even with topics such as space aliens and cruelty-free cannibalism. “By my understanding, almost anything could be called performance art. I wouldn’t label my work as such,” he insists. “Also, I think my work is entertaining.”

“Cultured Cell Culture,” takes place on Monday, Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Firehouse Theatre, 1609 W. Broad St., tickets at firehousetheatre.org

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