First Light 2010 Readings


When a new telescope focused on the heavens becomes operational, the initial image it sees are called First Light. For twelve years, the EST/Sloan Project has led a pioneering nationwide effort to commission, develop and present hundreds of new plays that challenge and broaden the view of science in the popular imagination. Each play's life onstage begins with the First Light festival. Join us for this year's discoveries.

Presented by the Ensemble Studio Theater and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


Beautiful Night
by Tommy Smith

directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel

Thursday, April 8 at 7pm

Set in depression-era New York City, Beautiful Night follows the Stateside exploits of Leon Theremin, Soviet inventor and father of electronic music. When Theremin marries a whipsmart black prima ballerina, their expatriate romance shocks society and attracts the looming shadow of foreign terror.


Cecilia and the Universe
by Adrienne Campbell-Holt and Emily Conbere

directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt

Tuesday, April 13 at 7pm

It's 1920s America and flapper girls are just starting to kick up their heels as Cecilia Payne, a 21-year-old Brit, arrives at the doorsteps of Harvard. Working alongside Annie Cannon, Antonia Maury and and several other of the greatest astronomers of our time, Cecilia and the 'computers' embark on a quest for understanding the nature of the cosmos while simultaneously navigating the perils of what it means to be a young woman and a scientist in the early 20th century.


Gustie Returns
by Jane Chotard Wheeler*

directed by Billy Hopkins*

Thursday, April 15 at 7pm

A renowned conservation biologist trying to return to her island home off the coast of Chile is snowed in at a hotel in New York on Christmas Eve. The arrival of her ex-husband and now-grown son forces her to confront her long-ago choice to send her son to live with his father.


Isaac's Eye
by Lucas Hnath

directed by Linsay Firman

Friday, April 16 at 7pm

Isaac Newton was willing to go to extreme lengths in his quest for scientific discovery. From a modern perspective, one of his most mind-boggling experiments was to stick a needle in his own eye to learn more about the physics of light and of optics. Hnath imagines the mindset and motivation which enabled Newton to take such a risky step for science.


Great Eastern
by Anna Moench

directed by RJ Tolan*

Monday, April 19 at 7pm

Every 17 years, Baltimore is swarmed with millions of periodical cicadas that molt, fly, and sing in a desperate mating ritual of apocalyptic proportions. And every 17 years, the Entomology department at a Baltimore university echoes with the not-quite-forgotten secrets of the past.


The Telephone Caveat
by Adam Gwon and Justin Werner

Tuesday, April 20 at 3pm - by invitation only

Although the public imagination considers Alexander Graham Bell the father of the telephone, he was in a neck-and-neck scientific race with Elisha Gray, a scientist in the employ of telegraph giant Western Union. The Telephone Caveat tells the story of how Bell may have used (or stolen) some of Gray's work, and explores the ambitions and emotions which motivated this possible theft.


Notes Toward The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs
created and performed by Mike Daisey

directed by Jean-Michele Gregory

Thursday, April 22 at 7pm - SOLD OUT!

In our 21st century technological wonderland, Apple stands alone as a peculiar, idiosyncratic company that embraces simplification, minimalism, convergence and industrial design. Simultaneously it is also renowned for stubbornness, blindness, willful ignorance and arrogance. The wedding of these traits into a unified aesthetic comes from the mind of one person whose profound effect on our way of life cannot be underestimated: Steve Jobs. From the graphical user interface to the iPod, from iPhones to buttonless mice, Apple's footprint on our world is almost immeasurable-and Steve Jobs is the rarest of creatures, a Willy Wonka-esque showman whose obsessions have fueled and shaped the entire landscape of technology. Winner of the EST/Sloan Galileo Prize. Join us as monologuist Mike Daisey develops this work for the first time in front of a live audience. Click here to learn more about Mike Daisey.


Dark Energy Stuns Universe
by Leah Maddrie

Monday, April 26 at 7pm

An ex-slave, a pioneering pilot, a TV star, an astronaut and a research scientist. What do they have in common? They are all characters in a quintet of monologues about black women, astrophysics and sex-not necessarily in that order. They each want to transcend the kinds of limitations that people of all backgrounds try to conquer every day: roles imposed by outside forces that would assign each of us to a predetermined fate, or position in society. Featuring OBIE award-winner Stephanie Berry*


Progress in Flying
by Lynn Rosen*

Thursday, April 29 at 4pm

In a defunct steel town on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, Lois and her mother grapple with a father gone AWOL, the legacy of forgotten aviation pioneer Octave Chanute who flew in their backyard a hundred years before, and a talent contest that must be won. A play about losers, winners, and those in between.


Youngblood's Mystery Science Brunch 2010

New Plays by Robert Askins, Jon Kern, Anna Kerrigan, Patrick Link and Erica Saleh

Sunday, May 2 at 1pm

Join the playwrights of Youngblood as they merrily push past their complete ignorance of science to ponder the really big questions: can science get us laid? Can science create an ice cream that tastes like a bagel? And when you're dumped by a scientist is it different from the way you usually get dumped? These and other grand queries of the universe will be answered at Mystery Science Brunch 2010, with a bonus buffet of pancakes, bacon, and (young) bloody Marys at Youngblood's fiscally questionable, morally reprehensible open bar.

* Denotes EST Member