A Physicist’s Humanity in “Einstein!” (a play by Jack Fry)

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“I wish I could blame falling in love on gravity.” – Albert Einstein 

(June 21, 2015) – Santa Monica, CA

It is easy to focus on technology when pondering the ways the world will change. Gadgets are tangible and their impact comprehensible and space-time bound. What if it is the most fundamental of sciences, though, that will ultimately impact humanity most in the near future? Few things can change the world more than our perception of it as the discovery of DNA or celestial mechanics have proven. While we are at the verge of a new identity crisis in physics (Quantum Mechanics: What Is Really Real?), it seems an appropriate time to look back at Einstein and the revolution of relativity — through human lenses.

Einstein! 

The one-man play Einstein!  is written and performed by Jack Fry and directed by Tom Blomquist.  The play has been performed worldwide but its home-base is the Santa Monica Playhouse. The project is the result of three years of research based on the 2007 release of 15,000 documents from Hebrew University that “gave us new facts and insights on Einstein’s early life in Berlin” according to Fry, whom received Best Actor honors from the London, Ontario Free Press for the 2014 London Fringe Festival.

The play takes place outside of space and time in Albert Einstein’s study in Berlin. It begins and is centered around the man as a 35 year-old, a day after the solar eclipse of August 21, 1914. There is a sense of what Einstein was attempting to accomplish with the Theory of Relativity. “Space and time on the left, energy and matter on the right,” says Fry, before the equation is iconically arranged as E = mc2 and forever changing our perception of the universe. The real focus, though, is the struggle Einstein lived as a physicist upending our sense of reality, meticulously documenting the behavior of light around a series of solar eclipses over the span of essentially two world wars. The content of Einstein’s letters reveals a much larger struggle, though – that of the genius wishing to be normal even for a few minutes, a man wrestling with a life of scientific mediocrity with his family versus understanding a glimpse of the fabric of the universe, and a father coming to terms with the abandonment of his son as a large price it seemed required to pay. Einstein’s struggles with love, family, and human emotion seem no less monumental than the results of his obsessive curiosity, peaking behind the curtain of light. Fry sensitively captures in Einstein! the personal and scientific upheaval it seems we are collectively bound to repeat soon.

Video: Shared via YouTube/Simon Levant

The next wave of discoveries in quantum mechanics, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence might yield a version of Einstein we can have a conversation with — a watershed event which would require looking at Einstein through a new lense. Plays like Jack Fry’s Einstein! let us hope we understand more about the human condition by then.

Video: Shared vis YouTube/Loic Le Meur

 

Main Photo: Jack Fry

 

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