Hannah and the art of physics

Toronto play­wright set for world pre­miere of new play by Kristina Virro

Thornhill Post - - Theatre -

Salt and choco­late. Pop­corn and M&M’s. Melon and pro­sciutto. Ev­ery now and again, there’s that bril­liant mo­ment when some­one dis­cov­ers an un­ex­pected com­bi­na­tion that ends up work­ing.

For Toronto play­wright Hannah Moscov­itch, this un­ex­pected duo was play­writ­ing and the­o­ret­i­cal physics.

Her new play, In­fin­ity, cen­tres around a math­e­ma­ti­cian ex­per­i­ment­ing with love while her par­ents — a com­poser and the­o­ret­i­cal physi­cist — strug­gle to keep theirs alive. High­light­ing what it means to be cit­i­zens of time, the play shows that love and time are con­nected in ways that we never could have imag­ined.

The process of writ­ing the play started when Vol­cano Theatre’s artis­tic direc­tor, Ross Manson, sim­ply re­quested that Moscov­itch write a play about time. Her first re­ac­tion: to turn to the peo­ple who know time best.

“I started read­ing the work of the­o­ret­i­cal physi­cists and try­ing to catch up on the many for­ma­tive years of physics,” says Moscov­itch.

She even­tu­ally came across Lee Smolin’s Time Re­born, which coun­ter­acts Ein­stein’s view that time is a “stub­bornly per­sis­tent illusion.” Rather, time is real, and the very laws of physics evolve over time rather than be­ing fixed, Smolin ar­gues.

Soon, Smolin be­came Moscov­itch’s “con­sult­ing physi­cist,” help­ing her write and re­vise the tech­ni­cal el­e­ments of his the­o­ries that were in­cor­po­rated into the play.

“It’s been re­ally beau­ti­ful to get to work with him, and it’s so rare in a way for artists and sci­en­tists to col­lab­o­rate,” says Moscov­itch. “We re­ally like each other be­cause we’re cre­ative types on both sides.”

Although the ex­plo­ration of physics may be new ter­ri­tory for Moscov­itch, other themes are ex­pected of the play­wright. Au­di­ence mem­bers surely won’t be sur­prised with this dark com­edy’s ex­am­i­na­tion of love — a typ­i­cal topic choice for Moscov­itch.

“I’m al­ways drawn to­ward any­thing that sort of refutes sim­pli­fi­ca­tion,” she said. “And love is like that. Love has its dan­gers and yet is es­sen­tial to our hap­pi­ness.”

In­fin­ity also deals with “large sys­tems of thoughts that we aren’t aware of” and how ideas are passed on from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. At six and a half months preg­nant, the play­wright ad­mits it’s a sub­ject that res­onates with her deeply at the mo­ment.

“I’m fully in the throes of think­ing about how my sys­tems of thought will be com­mu­ni­cated to the baby — what my sys­tems of thought are and which of my sys­tems of thought are un­ex­am­ined,” she says. “There’s a whole set of cul­tural ideals that get passed down.… And be­cause the play is about that, it’s com­ing out at a hi­lar­i­ously ap­pro­pri­ate time.”

Moscov­itch is an award-win­ning play­wright. Her first full-length play, East of Ber­lin, pre­miered at Tar­ragon in 2007 where she is cur­rently play­wright-in-res­i­dence.

In­fin­ity opens April 1 at the

Tar­ragon Theatre’s Ex­traspace.

Han­nah Moscov­itch is the play­wright-in-res­i­dence at Tar­ragon The­atre

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