Bloomington's Professional Theater Company

Bloomington's Professional Theater Company

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Vonnegut on Stage: War, Technology and Unintended Consequences


Cardinal Stage presents an evening of dramatic adaptations of Kurt Vonnegut’s short stories from Welcome to the Monkey House in partnership with the 2019 Granfalloon Festival presented by the IU Arts & Humanities Council. Staged readings will include Epicac (adapted by Vonnegut) and Report on the Barnhouse Effect (adapted by Claris A. Ross for NBC radio), which speak to Vonnegut’s wariness of the military industrial complex and the unintended consequences of technological advancement.



The first reading delves into the possible repercussions of building machines that replace and replicate human functions too closely. EPICAC, a sentient computer who develops feelings for a human woman after learning the definition of love, later appeared as a character in Vonnegut’s first novel “Player Piano” in 1952.

Report on the Barnhouse Effect

Vonnegut’s first written and published short story, Report on the Barnhouse Effect, follows a psychology professor who develops the ability to manipulate objects and events with his mind and faces the ultimate moral dilemma as the world’s “first weapon with a conscience,” when the U.S. government tries to exploit his powers. This story’s themes were heavily influenced by Vonnegut’s experiences as a prisoner of war in WWII Nazi Germany. 

Creative Team

  • Director
  • Rachel Hoey
  • Foley Artist
  • Tony Brewer
  • Stage Manager
  • Alex Woosley


Kurt Vonnegut (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was a prolific American writer, well known for his work in the Postmodernism literary movement. With a career spanning over 50 years, Vonnegut published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction, with further collections being published after his death. He is most famous for his darkly satirical, best-selling novel Slaughterhouse-Five.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Vonnegut attended Cornell University but dropped out in January 1943 and enlisted in the United States Army. As part of his training, he studied mechanical engineering at Carnegie Institute of Technology and the University of Tennessee. He was then deployed to Europe to fight in World War II and was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. He was interned in Dresden and survived the Allied bombing of the city by taking refuge in a meat locker of the slaughterhouse where he was imprisoned, inspiring his now-famous novel. Vonnegut published his first novel, Player Piano, in 1952. The novel was reviewed positively but was not commercially successful. In the nearly 20 years that followed, Vonnegut published several novels that were only marginally successful, such as Cat’s Cradle and God Bless you, Mr. Rosewater. Vonnegut’s breakthrough was his commercially and critically successful sixth novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. Later in his career, Vonnegut published several autobiographical essays and short-story collections.

After his death, he was hailed as a morbidly comical commentator on the society in which he lived and as one of the most important contemporary writers. Vonnegut’s son Mark published a compilation of his father’s unpublished compositions, titled Armageddon in Retrospect. In 2017, Seven Stories Press published Complete Stories, a collection of Vonnegut’s short fiction including 5 previously unpublished stories. Numerous scholarly works have examined Vonnegut’s writing and humor and his legacy reigns on today.


Tickets are $10 general admission. Purchase tickets through the BCT Box Office.



Granfalloon Festival Music Passes cannot be used to redeem tickets to this special add-on event. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door for each performance, so attendees are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance as capacity crowds are expected.


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