Science and math and more science, oh my.
Or for so many school kids, the “oh my” is more like a collective snore, because a show about science and math sounds way too much like school. Not when Doktor Kaboom takes the stage.
He has a way of making these lessons fun when he comes to Baton Rouge, and he promises lots of it when he steps on the Manship Theatre stage Sunday, Jan. 31, with his “Doktor Kaboom LIVE WIRE: The Electricity Tour” show.
Sunday’s public performance will be followed by two school performances on Monday, each involving student interaction with the good “doctor.”
“I bring volunteers on stage about five times during the show,” says Doktor Kaboom’s alter ego, David Epley. “This show is basically an introduction to electricity. It was co-commissioned by the Kennedy Center in the fall of 2014, and this will be my first time to perform it in Baton Rouge.”
Epley has played to sold-out houses at the Kennedy Center, but his favorite place to step on stage as the spiky-haired scientist in chrome goggles and orange lab coat is the Manship Theatre.
“The Manship Theatre has been supportive of me since the beginning,” says Epley, who is taking the local stage for the fifth time. “They brought my first show to the theater, and they even helped me develop another of my shows. At the time, one of their board members asked why there weren’t many traveling holiday shows. Not many groups will do a holiday-themed show because there would only be a limited number of weeks they could perform it. So, I said I would develop a holiday-themed show, and I brought it to the Manship.”
Now his show is all about electricity, asking, “What is it? Where does it do for us? Where does it come from?”
Epley answers these questions and more through demonstrations using Tesla coils, a Van de Graaf generator and a ping pong-shooting robot. Doktor Kaboom will explain everything from voltage and current, to charges, conservation of energy and plasma. And, he’ll make it fun.
Which is the main reason Epley developed the doctor with the phony German accent — he wanted audiences to share his love of science and math in a fun way.
“Doktor Kaboom” wasn’t Epley’s first choice of careers.
He actually studied at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics with hopes of becoming a chemical engineer, but also discovered a love for acting.
Epley spent the next 20 years writing, performing and directing original interactive comedy across the United States and Canada and later decided that he wanted to mix his love of science and math with that of acting.
“I knew I wanted to build a character before developing a show, because all of the comedy comes out of the character,” he says. “I was doing Renaissance festivals, so I built on that by doing street character work in upstate New York.”
That’s when Doktor Kaboom took the stage.“I made him German on a whim,” Epley says. “I wanted a character that would be bigger than life — bigger than me. I was going to make him Italian at first, but I look German, because my family heritage is German. And the accent resonates with audiences — they enjoy yelling, ‘Ya!’”
Though geared toward kids, the show is designed for all ages.
“A lot of kids tell me they’ve become interested in math and science after the show, but more often, parents reach out and talk to me about the show’s effect on their kids,” Epley says. “That’s really my favorite feedback, when adults tell me the things they’re doing with math and science with their kids after seeing the show.”
“Doktor Kaboom” keeps Epley on the road. He’ll travel from his home in Seattle for the show, then turn his attention to developing a pilot for a possible Internet series.
“I never thought this show would become as big as it has,” Epley says. “But I love it, and I love making science and math fun for everyone.”