Q&A with the Cast - Michael Louis Serafin-Wells from ISAAC'S EYE
Just in case the front row wasn't close enough for you, we're giving you a new opportunity to better get to know the cast of Isaac's Eye! First up in this four part series is the "deliciously sly" Michael Louis Serafin-Wells who plays Robert Hooke, Isaac Newton's contemporary and rival.
Q: What is your favorite detail about Robert Hooke that is not in the play?
A: Because Hooke is already, arguably, the most famous scientist in the world when the play begins, he might be seen as privileged. He is, of course, not. His father, like Newton's step-father, was a rural clergyman. Dutiful son, he remained at home until his father died. And after the funeral, with his entire inheritance (£20) in his pocket, he fucking WALKED to London. Knowing no one. No prospects and made his own way. That is a fucking Working Class Hero. It's the goddamn 1600's. Even 20 years later when he's worked his way up from nothing, maybe some vestige of this shows up in the play when ON FOOT he travels to meet Newton for the first time...
Q: While Newton and Hooke are rivals, Isaac regards Hooke as a mentor? How do you see this from Hooke's perspective?
A: Well, this - aside from the very controversial Catherine scene, is my favourite element of the play - those moments when Hooke is Newton's teacher, working with, challenging, goading his brilliant but sloppy pupil to do the work, find the truth. You might remember this, at the Opening Night fucking Neil deGrasse Tyson was there with his entire family taking up the front row. At the reception, he grabbed me around the shoulders from behind and first said "that was pretty crazy - you're right in our face! (talking about that front row in full light steps away from us)". "Well", I said you're right in OUR face, so the feeling is mutual!" He laughed and then told me how much he liked us bringing Hooke and Newton to fleshy, flawed, real life and then said, "but when they get down it - beyond the ambition and the jealousy and everything - above everything - they both want to know the truth. That was... it's well done".
Q: Hooke does some fucked up shit. Do you think he was really fucked up, or just a product of his time?
A: I reject the premise. What exactly did he do that was so "fucked up"? Anything called out in the play is, I think, brilliantly, counter-balanced later in the play by Lucas. Beyond that, did he murder anyone? Did he cheat anyone? I think not. I think the fucked-up thing is that he was so thoroughly erased from history by his rivals. What's that line about history? That it is written by the victors? From our own brief American history, why is the late-George McGovern cited so poorly? Because he lost? To fucking Nixon?! Calling someone a "McGovernite" is meant to be a political slur. That's bullshit. Is anyone prouder to be a "Nixonite"? (beat) Yeah, I guess they are. God help them...
Q: What do you think Robert Hooke would be doing, were he alive today?
A: I think he'd be living in a rent-stabilzed apartment in Brooklyn, writing his 40th book (self-published), doing readings at The Strand, a recurrent guest on New York Public Radio, hanging out with punkrock science nerds like Fugazi's Guy Picciotto and Ian McKaye and inventing a lot of cool shit that some other asshole gets all the credit for.
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