Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Zacarias' LEGACY OF LIGHT Makes Its World Premiere At Arena Stage 5/8-6/14

Local playwright Karen Zacarías offers Arena Stage audiences the world premiere of Legacy of Light, a funny and moving romp about the passion for truth as lived by two different women in their separate eras.

With direction by Arena's Artistic Director Molly Smith, the commissioned work features Lise Bruneau (Shakespeare Theatre's recent Ion) as Émilie du Châtelet and Carla Harting (last at Arena in A Delicate Balance) as modern-day Dr. Olivia Hasting Brown. They are joined by Stephen Schnetzer (Broadway's and Arena's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?), Michael Russotto, Lindsey Kyler, and David Covington. Legacy of Light runs May 8-June 14, 2009 at Arena Stage in Crystal City. The press opening performance is Thursday, May 14 at 8:00 p.m.

"This new comedy exhibits the witty elegance of Karen's writing: she is a gifted and fierce playwright," comments Smith. "Legacy of Light is about enlightenment, the twin passions of motherhood and science, and the power of love and the power of learning. Through two readings, a workshop at Georgetown University and many conversations with D.C. area scientists and astronomers, this play has grown into a work that is readily accessible yet scientifically accurate."

Zacarías, founding artistic director of the Young Playwrights' Theater and winner of the 2000 Helen Hayes Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play (The Sins of Sor Juana), adds "Although we do not know our distant relatives, we are still living, feeling and doing many of the same things they did 300 years ago. There is a sense of serendipity that infuses this play, an affirmation that everything changes but nothing is truly lost."

Eras intertwine in this new work about the synchronicities of desire and discovery. Enter the world of 18th century France and meet physicist Émilie du Châtelet, lover of famous French philosopher Voltaire. When Émilie, at age 42, becomes unexpectedly pregnant and fears she may die in childbirth, she turns all attention to publishing her life's scientific discoveries. Jump forward to the present to meet brilliant astrophysicist Olivia and her husband, Peter, who want a child but cannot conceive. They find what could be hope in the free-spirited young surrogate Millie. Follow Émilie and Olivia as they struggle to balance the seemingly opposite pulls of intellectual and maternal fulfillment.

Images and further information are available upon request. Please email

About the creative team & cast of Legacy of Light:

Karen Zacarías (Playwright) has had her plays produced at Arena Stage, The Goodman Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Round House Theater, TFA, Alliance Theater, Berkshire Theater Festival, the Arden and others. Her plays include The Book Club Play, Mariela in the Desert, the adaptation of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents and The Sins of Sor Juana. Next season, she will have productions at The Goodman Theater, the Denver Center for Performing Arts and Milagro Theater, and her children's play Chasing George Washington will go on a national tour with the Kennedy Center. Her musical plays for young people with composer Debbie Wicks La Puma include Einstein Is a Dummy and four works for Imagination Stage: Looking for Roberto Clemente, Ferdinand the Bull, Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans and The Magical Piñata. Honors include: The Francesca Primus Prize, The Helen Hayes for Outstanding New Play, The National Latino Playwrights Award, the AT&T/First Stages Award, The O'Neill residency, New Vision/New Voices. She is founder and artistic director of Young Playwrights' Theater.

Molly Smith (Director) has been a passionate leader in new-play development for the past 30 years, while at Arena Stage as well as at Perseverance Theatre in Alaska, the theater she founded and led for 19 years. During 10 seasons as Arena's artistic director, she's focused the repertory on American voices, making Arena the largest theater in America focusing on American artists. Smith has commissioned or championed numerous world premieres, including Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive and Mineola Twins; Tim Acito's The Women of Brewster Place; Moisés Kaufman's 33 Variations; Charles Randolph-Wright's Blue; Zora Neale Hurston's lost American play Polk County; Karen Zacarías' Legacy of Light; and Passion Play, a cycle by Sarah Ruhl, some of which she has directed. She founded Arena's downstairs series, which has read or workshopped some 60 plays, half of which have gone on to full productions. Her directorial work has also been seen at the Shaw Festival in Canada, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, and Centaur Theatre in Montreal, and includes classics such as South Pacific, Mack and Mabel, Anna Christie and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She has served as literary advisor to Sundance Theatre Lab and formed the Arena Stage Writers Council, composed of leading American playwrights. An avid traveler, Smith brings artists of international renown to work at Arena Stage and serves as a member of the board of Theatre Communications Group as well as the Center for International Theatre Development. She directed two feature films, Raven's Blood and Making Contact, and received honorary doctorates from both Towson Univ. and American Univ.

Lise Bruneau (Émilie du Châtelet) makes her Arena Stage debut, having worked with Zacarías in The Book Club Play at Round House, followed by Mary Hall Surface's Alice. Other area shows include Ion, Othello and Winter's Tale at Shakespeare Theatre Company and The Murder of Isaac, Blithe Spirit, Mrs. Warren's Profession and Mary Stuart at Center Stage. Bruneau has directed for Taffety Punks, including the acclaimed all-girl Romeo & Juliet, And Then It Faster Rock'd: The Podcast, Let X and The Devil in His Own Words. She's performed in regional theaters such as Old Globe, ACT, Seattle Rep, Wilma, Triad Stage, Berkeley Rep, Traveling Jewish, and the St. Louis, Alabama, Chicago, Santa Cruz and Oregon Shakespeare festivals. She's wrestled with characters such as Elizabeth I, Margaret of Anjou, Rosalind, Titania, Eliza Doolittle, Marquise de Merteuil, Josie (Moon for the Misbegotten), The Angel (Angels in America), Ruth and Elvira (Blithe Spirit) and Amanda (Private Lives).

Carla Harting (Olivia ) returns to Arena Stage, having appeared in A Delicate Balance this season and in Sarah Ruhl's Passion Play, a cycle. Other collaborations with Ruhl include the Playwrights Horizons production of Dead Man's Cell Phone, as well as Eurydice at Yale Rep and its NY premiere at Second Stage. She has appeared in various NY productions with such theaters as 13P, Barrow Street, Clubbed Thumb, and New Georges. Her regional work includes The Lady from Dubuque (Seattle Rep); Night and Day (Wilma); and The Scene, After Ashley, Kid Simple, Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls and The Blue Room (Humana); A Midsummer Night's Dream (La Jolla); What the Butler Saw (South Coast); Uncle Vanya and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (San Diego Rep); and The Bright and Bold Design (Studio Theatre). Her film and TV credits include Never Forever, Law & Order and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Stephen Schnetzer (Voltaire) has appeared in Arena Stage's Noises Off and The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? On Broadway, he was in The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?; A Talent for Murder; and Filumena, directed by Laurence Olivier. Off-Broadway credits include Romeo and Juliet at Playhouse 91; Timon of Athens and Cymbeline with New York Shakespeare Festival; Miss Julie at Roundabout; and the original production of The Lisbon Traviata. Other regional theaters include American Shakespeare Theatre, McCarter, Boston's Lyric Stage, PCPA, Mark Taper Forum in The Tempest with Anthony Hopkins, and four seasons with American Conservatory Theater.
Michael Russotto (Peter/Marquis du Châtelet) returns to Arena Stage, where he previously appeared in On the Jump and The Wild Duck. Recent D.C. roles include Alexandra in She Stoops to Comedy (Hayes nom, Outstanding Lead Actor) and the Soul in Vigils (Hayes nom, Outstanding Ensemble), both at Woolly Mammoth, where he's a member of the acting company. Last fall, Russotto played multiple roles in Marco Ramirez's Hayes-nominated play Mermaids, Monsters and the World Painted Purple at Kennedy Center's Theater for Young Audiences. Favorite roles include Mr. Lawrence in Girl in the Goldfish Bowl (Metro Stage) and Lou in Lenny and Lou (Woolly Mammoth). Next season, he'll return to Woolly Mammoth in Charles Mee's Full Circle and to the Kennedy Center as William Howard Taft in Teddy Roosevelt and the Ghostly Mistletoe. Russotto is also a long-time narrator of recorded books for the Library of Congress.

David Covington (St. Lambert/Lewis) returns to Arena Stage, where he was last seen in The Heidi Chronicles. Other D.C. appearances include: Young Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (Ford's); Gilgamesh in Walking the Winds (Kennedy Center); The Witches of Eastwick, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Mack and Mabel, Follies, and Gypsy (Signature); The Prince in Cinderella (Imagination Stage); and Azriel in Passing the Love of Women (Theater J). Covington also has an extensive background in tap dancing, including the internationally acclaimed Tap Dogs (Off-Broadway, national tour), assoc. choreographer/soloist for A Salute to the 1940s Broadway Musical at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra, and assoc. choreographer/soloist for Broadway's Greatest Showstoppers at Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic.

Lindsey Kyler (Pauline/Millie) makes her debut appearance with Arena Stage in Legacy of Light. Other recent works include Three Sisters (Irina), Hamlet (Ophelia) and the world premiere of Le Grand Meaulnes (Alexandrine).

The Creative Team for Legacy of Light includes Set Designer Marjorie Bradley Kellogg, Costume Designer Linda Cho, Lighting Designer Michael Gilliam, Sound Designer/Composer André J. Pluess, Production Dramaturg Jocelyn Clarke and Stage Manager Susan R. White.

Development for Legacy of Light was made possible through the research assistance from notable scientific consultants in the D.C. area including Jack G. Hehn (American Institute of Physics), John W. Layman (University of Maryland), Jaylee M. Mead (NASA), Mercedes Lopez-Morales (Carnegie Institution), Vera C. Rubin (Carnegie Institution) and James H. Stith (American Institute of Physics).

Legacy of Light is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Arena Stage's 2008/09 season is sponsored by The Family of H. Max and Josephine F. Ammerman, Andrew R. Ammerman, and Hubert (Hank) and Charlotte Schlosberg.

Legacy of Light Special Events, Ticket Information & Performance Calendar

The Salon - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
In the spirit of artistic and literary salons of the past, The Salon features artistic leaders from Arena Stage in a series of lively, in-depth conversations with the playwrights, actors, directors, designers, dramaturgs and audiences that make Arena Stage unique. The Salon is free to Arena Stage subscribers and donors ($75+) and only $3 for the general public. Reservations must be made through the Arena Stage Sales Office at (202) 488-3300.

Southwest Night - Friday, May 15, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.
An invitation is extended to our Southwest D.C. neighbors to buy $20 tickets, plus applicable fees, for one designated Friday evening performance of each production. Proof of Southwest D.C. residency or employment for each audience member of each party must be presented at the time of purchase. Tickets are limited to four per person and are based on availability. To purchase tickets, call (202) 488-3300 or stop by the Arena Stage Sales Office.

Out at Arena - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
For gay and lesbian audience members on selected Wednesday evenings, a post-show discussion with cast members and a reception following the evening's performance are offered. The post-show reception is FREE for subscribers of the Out at Arena series.

TICKETS: Tickets are $25 - $66, plus applicable fees. Discount tickets are available for patrons purchasing tickets for multiple shows, students and groups. A limited number of $10 tickets for patrons ages 30 and under go on sale beginning each Monday for performances that week. (All patrons must present valid ID.) HOTTIX, a limited number of half-price, day-of-performance tickets, are available 90 to 30 minutes before curtain of every performance. Tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at (202) 488-3300 or at the Arena Stage Sales Office at 1800 S. Bell Street, Arlington, VA 22202.

Sales Office/Subscriptions (202) 488-3300
TTY for deaf patrons (202) 484-0247
Group Sales Hotline (202) 488-4380
Info for patrons with disabilities (202) 488-3300

Tuesday, Wednesday & Sunday at 7:30 p.m. (no evening show 5/26, 6:00 p.m. curtain on 6/7)
Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m. (no matinee 5/9, 5/24 or 6/7)
Weekday matinees at 12:00 p.m. on 5/20, 5/26 & 6/3

Sign-interpreted performances: Sunday 5/31 at 7:30 p.m. & Thursday 6/11 at 8:00 p.m.
Post-show discussions: 5/20 and 5/26 after the noon show, 6/2 after 7:30 p.m. show, 6/3 Theater Seminar after noon show & 6/4 after 8:00 p.m. show
Audio described performances: 5/23 at 2:00 p.m. & 5/27 at 7:30 p.m.
Open captioned performance: 6/10 at 7:30 p.m.

With construction well underway on the 47-year-old Southwest D.C. theater campus, Arena Stage has launched ARENA RESTAGED, a two-year festival celebrating the rich mosaic of our nation's voices. ARENA RESTAGED, which will lay the foundation for a new home for theater artists and audiences, will take place throughout the time it takes to finish the expansion of the new theater complex, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. At the Center, the two existing performance spaces-the Fichandler Stage and the Kreeger Theater-will be fully renovated and a new 200-seat space dedicated to premiering American theater, The Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, will be added. Arena Stage at the Mead Center is scheduled to open for the 2010/11 season.

To allow for a timely and cost-effective renovation, Arena currently operates out of Arena Stage in Crystal City (1800 S. Bell Street, Arlington, VA) and at the historic Lincoln Theatre (1215 U Street, NW, Washington, D.C.). As information changes and/or becomes available throughout the transition, Arena will keep its website at as up to date as possible with Frequently Asked Questions, directions and other relevant information. Information on Arena Stage's 2008/09 season is also available online.

Featured at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

Related Articles View More Washington, DC Stories

More Hot Stories For You