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Playwrights' Center & Trademark Theater Present FOUR MEASURES

Trademark Theater founder and artistic director Tyler Michaels King is set to direct the musical workshop.

Playwrights' Center in partnership with Trademark Theater will present a free online workshop of Kira Obolensky and David Darrow's new musical "Four Measures" on Monday, March 15 at 7:00 pm CDT. Trademark Theater founder and artistic director Tyler Michaels King is set to direct the musical workshop and it will feature actors Serena Brook*, John Catron*, Ryan Colbert*, Robert Dorfman*, Meghan Kreidler*, Sara Ochs, and Jason Rojas*.

"Four Measures" is based on the "21 grams experiment" conducted by Dr. Duncan MacDougall in Haverhill Massachusetts in 1907, where he endeavored to weigh the human soul. The new musical follows Lucy Starling, a young nurse in search of purpose, as she aids the eccentric doctor in his peculiar experiment to weigh patients as they die to prove the human soul has weight.

Book writer Kira Obolensky said, "David and I are crafting this journey around a real experiment that happened in the early 1900s. We are using it to explore the process of death, the questions about the human soul, and how death ultimately 'teaches' us life."

"It's based on the true story of Dr. Duncan MacDougall, who, in 1907, weighed dying tuberculosis patients at the moment of their deaths-the hypothesis being, if the soul has weight, the patients would be slightly lighter a moment after dying," explained lyricist David Darrow. "It's a weird and sort of tragic footnote in the history of American medicine and it feels so relevant to the moment we find ourselves in now."

"In the fall of 2019, we did a workshop at the U of M with some amazing BFA students. That version of the piece was very dark and highly poetic. But at that point, Covid hadn't happened, and being in the midst of a pandemic changed how we imagined these characters would respond to mass death and the helplessness of incurable disease. Rather than a heady, poetic piece about death, we've created a darkly comic, slightly absurd musical about every-day characters living through an ungodly moment," commented Darrow.

Obolensky stated, "David and I are working hard to make this play live in another place and time, as opposed to its historical time frame. We want music, language, juxtapositions of sound, characters, images, to make it feel compelling-and surprising-to contemporary audiences. We didn't want the play to be necessarily about our current experiences....By looking at these specific characters with empathy and humor, we hope there will be enough distance for audiences to see that the musical tackles more than a pandemic, but bigger issues of how we live and die, and what remains when we do depart the world."

"Hopefully, it feels like it's really about all of us and the different ways we confront tragedy on a massive scale," added Darrow.


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