From September 27 through October 21, The Nora Theatre Company will proudly present the New England Premiere of Sarah Treem's THE HOW AND THE WHY at Central Square Theater. The Press Performance is Monday, October 1 at 7:30PM.
On the eve of a national conference Zelda, an acclaimed evolutionary biologist, is visited by Rachel, an ambitious graduate student. The two women share a zeal for science, a bold and contrarian approach to the male-dominated field, and much more. During the course of the visit, the young scholar challenges the older woman's "grandmother hypothesis" with a radical theory of her own that she believes will change the way people regard sex. Emotion and evolution clash with humor and passion in Sarah Treem's (HBO's In Treatment) new play about the competitiveness and sacrifices needed to succeed as a woman in science.
For this New England Premiere, The Nora Theatre Company's Associate Director, Daniel Gidron directs. Last season, Mr. Gidron directed the critically acclaimed productions of the Boston Premiere of Photograph 51 and Arabian Nights, for which he won the 2012 Independent Reviewer of New England (IRNE) Award for Best Director, Drama, Midsize Theater.
Debra Wise, Artistic Director of Underground Railway Theater (The Nora's sister resident company at Central Square Theater), will portray acclaimed evolutionary biologist, Zelda Kahn. Performing in science-themed productions is not foreign territory to Ms. Wise who earned a 2012 IRNE Nomination for her performance as Sara Turing in Hugh Whitemore's Breaking the Code. Ms. Wise is also the Co-Director of Catalyst Collaborative@MIT, a science-theater collaboration between MIT and the two resident theater companies at Central Square Theater. Joining Ms. Wise is Samantha Richert as Rachel Hardeman. Ms. Richert is a recent graduate of Brandeis University's MFA Acting program. She has performed with Primary Stages in New York City, Berkshire Theatre Festival, and Actors' Shakespeare Project, among others.
THE HOW AND THE WHY runs from September 27 through October 21, 2012 at Central Square Theater at 450 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ticket prices range from $15 to $50 with discounts for students, seniors, and groups. For tickets or more information, the public is invited to call 866.811.4111 or visit CentralSquareTheater.org.
About THE HOW AND THE WHY
Several years ago, a boyfriend gave Sarah Treem a book about female physiology, Woman: An Intimate Geography by New York Times Pulitzer Prize Winning reporter Natalie Angier. In this book Ms. Treem read about two theories: The Grandmother Hypothesis and another called The Toxicity of Sperm.
As an undergraduate, Ms. Treem, curious about playwriting, saw a production Emily Mann's Still Life which gave her the answer to the question "How does one write a play?" In an interview at the McCarter Theatre Company for the World Premiere of THE HOW AND THE WHY (directed by Emily Mann), she recounted that experience and the answer to that question: "…you put people in a room who have very good reasons to be furious at each other and you don't let them leave. That's how you create dramatic tension. THE HOW AND THE WHY is somewhat based on that principle."
While Ms. Treem has acknowledged that the play is about science, she suggests the center of the play is the relationship between the two women, commenting "I was interested in what it means for me and my generation to be daughters of the feminist generation." She goes on to mention Susan Faludi's Harper's article, "American Electra: Feminism's ritual matricide," about the generational divide in the feminist movement. Ms. Faludi proposed that the contemporary women's movement "seems fated to fight a war on two fronts: alongside the battle of the sexes rages the battle of the ages."
In THE HOW AND THE WHY, Ms. Treem notes that "the scientific argument serves as a metaphor for the generational conflict. And the characters actually have a harder time letting go of emotional intelligence from generation to generation than scientific principles." Through the characters' passionate argument and debate about their own respective scientific theories, Ms. Treem not only explores intergenerational views on feminism, but also what happens in society when women become leaders in professions with a perception of being exclusively for men, and how that impacts the women's lives.