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.