James Earl Jones, Roger Robinson and Robert Joy will all perform in the Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's First Light 2011 series of new plays about science and technology now through April 23 at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, 549 West 52nd Street.
"This is maybe the strongest, most varied group of plays we've assembled under the First Light banner," said William Carden, Artistic Director of the Ensemble Studio Theatre, which probably has more plays per square inch in development than any other institution on the planet. "This festival, now in its 13th year, is one of the core pieces of the Ensemble Studio Theatre's artistic life, and we're pleased to see it attracting the talent it deserves."
This year's collaboration between the Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will feature a new opera about the first computer language, a look at the lives of bedbug exterminators and a multimedia adaptation of Edwin Abbot's 1884 novella Flatland.
First Light 2011 will culminate in a five-performance run of Pidgeon by Tommy Smith April 20 through 23. Pidgeon covers the exploits of Leon Theremin, a Soviet scientist and inventor of electronic music who worked in the shadow of Stalin's rule. Directed by Mr. Carden, Pidgeon features Robert Joy in the role of Theremin. Curran Connor, Angela Lewis and Peter Maloney round out the cast.
The First Light 2011 lineup (All performances are at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, 549 West 52nd Street, unless otherwise noted.):
Monday, April 4, at 7:00pm
Please Continue by Frank Basloe, directed by Law & Order's Matthew Penn, explores the ethical struggles rising from Stanley Milgram's 1960s obedience experiments.
Tuesday, April 5, at 7:00pm
Fast Company by Carla Ching (Artistic Director for the Asian-American theater Second Generation), directed by Linsay Firman (Photograph 51), is the story of a family of grifters - a magician, a sportswriter, and a game theorist - reunited at their mother's deathbed.
Thursday, April 7, at 7:00pm
Smash by Robert Askins flashes back to 1993 and the construction - and demise - of the attempted Hadron Collider in Waxahatchie, Texas.
Friday, April 8, at 3:00pm
The Secret Life of Arthropods & Rodents by Cori Thomas follows the struggles of a young woman, recently paroled, along her journey to become a Pest Control Engineer. Little does she know a bedbug epidemic looms....
Monday, April 11, at 8:00pm at the Five Angels Theater, 789 Tenth Ave at 53rd Street
Ada is an opera composed by Kim Sherman, libretto by Margaret Vandenburg; directed by Lisa Rothe with musical direction by Kimberly Grigsby. Ada chronicles the life of Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron and widely credited with writing the first computer program.
Tuesday, April 12, at 7:00pm
Separation of Blood by Bridgette Wimberly recalls a perilous drive through the south by Dr. Charles Drew, the African-American who spearheaded the first blood bank in an era when he wasn't allowed to receive a transfusion himself. Featuring James Earl Jones and Roger Robinson.