Rehearsals Begin for Lucas Hnath World Premiere of ISAAC'S EYE,2/9-2/24

Rehearsals Begin for Lucas Hnath World Premiere  of ISAAC'S EYE,2/9-2/24

Rehearsals begin this week for the world premiere of Isaac's Eye by Lucas Hnath, directed by Linsay Firman. Isaac's Eye, an Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Project for New Plays on Science and Technology presentation, is the tale of an emotionally immature, 25-year-old Isaac Newton, his drive to become a fellow of The Royal Society and the great scientist Robert Hooke who, in Mr. Hnath's play, is the nemesis standing in his way. Iaaac's Eye begins previews Wednesday, January 30, at 7:00pm for an opening on Saturday, February 9, at 7:00p.m at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, 549 West 52nd Street.

Isaac's Eye is brash, irreverent, often comical, and ultimately scrupulous in dissecting fact from fiction in search of what history may have been hiding all these years.

Haskell King plays Newton and Michael Louis Serafin-Wells plays the hot-headed, randy polymath Robert Hooke. Rounding out the cast are Kristen Bush and Jeff Beihl. Mr. King and Ms. Bush, who both appeared in the EST/Sloan Project's 2010 Photograph 51, are being reunited with director Firman who directed the Anna Ziegler play about Rosalind Franklin.

Mr. Hnath's play re-imagines the contentious, plague-ravaged world in which, the young Isaac Newton and the older Robert Hooke are a Mozart and Salieri, a Tesla and an Edison, who wrangle over the physics of white light and its separation by refraction. In the course of their dispute Newton risks blinding himself by conducting optical experiments on his own eyes to prove to Hooke that his theory is right and that he is worthy of admission to The Royal Society.

Far from a costume drama, Isaac's Eye is original in its presentation and contemporary in its tone. Mr. Hnath's play occupies its own time and space as it explores the dreams and longings that drove the rural farm boy Isaac Newton to become one of the greatest thinkers in modern science.

Mr. Hnath's Death Tax was one of the most talked-about productions at last spring's Humana Festival of New American Plays. Many of his other recent plays, both unproduced and produced, also take on contemporary or historical events and people: Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney, Red Speedo, Hillary and Clinton, Sake Tasting with a Séance to Follow, The Courtship of Anna Nicole Smith, Odile's Ordeal, Tonguetied, and Three Attempts at Corrective Eye Surgery. Mr. Hnath (left) has been a resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2011 and has had his plays produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville, University of Miami, The Culture Project, Target Margin and Ontological-Hysteric Theater. In addition to EST, his plays have been developed at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and Cleveland Public Theatre.

The 32-year-old Mr. Hnath is a two-time winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant for his feature-length screenplays. Isaac's Eye won the 2012 Whitfield Cook Prize, an annual award given by New Dramatists for an unproduced, unpublished play deemed worthiest by an outside panel of judges

Linsay Firman, Associate Director of the EST/Sloan Project and Literary Manager at EST, directed the 2010 NY premiere of Anna Ziegler's Photograph 51 at the Ensemble Studio Theatre later reprised at World Science Festival. Other NYC productions include Rachel Bond's Anniversary, Garrett M. Brown's Americana and Jose Rivera's Flowers, all in the EST Marathon; Perdita by Pierre Diennet (Lion Theater), Joy Tomasko's Unfold Me, Catherine Trieschmann's Crooked, Heather Lynn MacDonald's Pink (all at Ariel Tepper's Summer Play Festival); Anne Washburn's Apparition (chashama) named one of Time Out New York's ten best plays of 2003, Howard Barker's The Power of the Dog and The Possibilities, Joe Orton's Loot, and Peter Rose's Snatch (Soho Rep). She began working in new play development as the Associate Director of Soho Rep, where she worked from 1998 - 2004.

Nick Francone is designing the scenery, Les Dickert, the lighting, SuzAnne Chesney, the costumes, and Shane Rettig, the sound.

Isaac's Eye performs Wednesday through Sundays evenings at 7:00pm. Matinees are Saturdays at 2:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00pm on February 10, 17, and 24. . SPECIAL PICK YOUR PRICE PREVIEWS, depending upon seat availability, are through February 2. ALL MATINEES FOR THE ENTIRE RUN ARE PICK YOUR OWN PRICE. Regular tickets are $30, $20 for student/seniors. To order tickets call 866.811.4111 or go to

The Ensemble Studio Theatre (EST) was founded in the belief that extraordinary support yields extraordinary work. We are a dynamic and expanding company of artists committed to the discovery and nurturing of new voices and the continued support and growth of artists throughout their creative lives. Through our unique collaborative process we develop and produce original, provocative, and authentic new plays that engage and challenge our audience and audiences across the country.

Isaac's Eye continues the EST/Sloan Project tradition that began in 1998 and continued last season with Patrick Link's acclaimed play, Headstrong, a gripping family drama about concussions and sports which Stone Phillips found "funny, frightening, relevant, and enlightening." Its 2010 predecessor, Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler, about the life and work of British scientist Rosalind Franklin and her role in the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, was reprised for the 2011 World Science Festival and was a sold-out hit.

In previous years EST/Sloan has dramatized the travails of two Russian scientists charged with embalming Lenin's corpse (Lenin's Embalmers, 2010), the conflict of two generations of black scientists (Relativity, 2006), a solipsistic anthropologist coping with mothering an autistic child (Lucy, 2008), the last days of a tragically irradiated nuclear physicist (Louis Slotin Sonata, 2001), and the romantic resonance discoverable in string theory (String Fever, 2003), among other subjects. In the spring of 2009, Deb Laufer's End Days brought together the Rapture and Stephen Hawking for what Backstage called "A serious comedy, and the best new play I've seen in a long time. Ferociously good." In 2007 David Zellnik's Serendib investigated how the dynamics of a group of primate field researchers mirrored the behavior of a troop of Sri Lankan temple monkeys. ("A great play" - NPR)

Related Articles

Off-Off-Broadway THEATER Stories | Shows

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...