THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY'S DREAM UP FESTIVAL PRESENTS
"MOVING BODIES: THE MARQUISE DU CHATELET AND VOLTAIRE'S LAWS OF ATTRACTION" BY LORRAINE LISCIO
How Newton got it wrong and how a woman came to fix it
WHERE AND WHEN:
NEW YORK, July 27 -- “Moving Bodies” by Lorraine Liscio, directed by Myriam Cyr, reclaims the story of Emilie du Châtelet, a lover of Voltaire, showing how she fought for love and science and why as a woman she was never allowed to have both. Theater for the New City’s Dream Up Festival will present the play's world premiere August 26 to September 16.
On a starry Parisian night in 1740, masked women and men attend a ball. Voltaire, sharp witted, a man of the Enlightenment, writes about the properties of fire, Newton's philosophy, human rights, religious intolerance, differences between British and French governments and more. Emilie du Châtelet , a scientist, wealthy lover of the arts, and a gambler, wants to meet him. For the next ten years she and Voltaire will shuttle back and forth between Paris and their Cirey chateau, where they will spend their days in study and lab experiments, and their evenings hosting plays and operas for visiting friends. A sworn enemy, Madame de Graffigny, will tear them apart. Ever defiant of a society not ready to accept her, the unapologetic du Châtelet fights for her place as one of the world’s greatest scientists.
At the heart of du Châtelet's travails is society’s disregard for her intellect and contributions to science. In 1728 Paris, the Secretary of the Academy of Science affirms Newton's calculation of the force of moving bodies: force equals mass times velocity. When Emilie du Châtelet corrects his mistake in an open letter in the Journal of Science, writing Force equals mass times velocity squared, the Secretary strikes back: “Your female condition is the source of your illusions.” But Emilie is right, and Newton got it wrong. After being maligned even by those close to her in life, those who knew du Châtelet seek to do right by her and her visionary work after her death.
The cast will include Lee Mikaska Gardner as Emilie du Chatelet, Saxon Palmer as Voltaire, David Beck as Saint Lambert, Maupertuis and Koenig, and Sarah Oakes Muirhead As Madame de Graffigny.
Myriam Cyr directs, choreographs and designs this world premiere. Cyr, a former Poet Laureate of her native New Brunswick, Canada, is also the founder of the Black Box Lab and of Punctuate 4, organizations dedicated to the production of new works of theater and to bringing art to diverse communities. Since 2014, the Black Box Lab has developed 20 new plays. Dream Up Festival regulars will know her as director of last year’s acclaimed “I Am Antigone.” In 2016, she was nominated for Best Director by Broadway World for her production of “Mary Poppins.” Her productions have been called “thrilling” by the New York Times.
Playwright Lorraine Liscio is the author of the book “Paris and Her Remarkable Women.” She has also published articles on women waters including Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Nadine Gordimer, and Eudora Welty, as well as articles on French writers Georges Bernanos and Stéphane Mallarmé. Liscio, who served as Director of Women's Studies at Boston College, brings a knowledge of French history and women’s studies to her work. A short version of her piece “City of Ladies,” about Christine de Pizan, another woman who eschewed convention, was performed at the Medieval Play Festival at the Cloisters. Other plays include “The Sheltered Fire” and “Gono Superiore.”
Music will be written for the play and performed live by composer David Beck. Lighting design will be by Carolyn Wong.
The ninth annual Dream Up Festival (www.dreamupfestival.org) is being presented by Theater for the New City from August 26 to September 16. An ultimate new work festival, it is dedicated to the joy of discovering new authors and edgy, innovative performances. Audiences savor the excitement, awe, passion, challenge and intrigue of new plays from around the country and around the world.
The festival does not seek out traditional scripts that are presented in a traditional way. It selects works that push new ideas to the forefront, challenge audience expectations and make us question our understanding of how art illuminates the world around us.
In addition to traditional plays, a unique and varied selection of productions will again be offered, drawing upon a variety of performance genres including musicals, puppetry and movement theater. The Festival's founders, Crystal Field and Michael Scott-Price, feel this is especially needed in our present time of declining donations to the arts, grants not being awarded due to market conditions, and arts funding cuts on almost every level across the country and abroad.
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Captioned, high-resolution photos of shows in this festival are available for download at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/e1pxCX4oeTwshVwn7
The festival's website is www.dreamupfestival.org.