By Michael Frayn

2022-03-03 20:00 2021-11-07 23:59 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: Copenhagen

Video on-demand

This streamed recording will be available to watch as of 8:00pm EST on Thursday March 3rd, until 11:59 pm EST on Saturday, March 5th. Limited availability. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play, Drama Desk Award and New York Drama Critics Award for Best Play in 2000. The Tony Award-winning Copenhagen is an explosive re-imagining of the mysterious wartime meeting between two scientists to discuss the atomic bomb.

It is 1941. Nations race to perfect The Bomb, and two Nobel...

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Thursday, March 3, 2022
Video on-demand

≈ 2 hours and 15 minutes · No intermission

But why?

This is the play’s opening entreaty and an invitation to all of us: historians, actors, writers, audiences. Why. Why do people do the things they do?

Michael Frayn’s response to why finds its allegory in Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which essentially states that you cannot know with precise certainty where a particle will land until the moment it is observed, and further,  that the act of observation also changes the particle you are observing. All you can predict is a range of probabilities – places where the particle is more likely to land than others. Superimposing this principle on to the realm of human behaviour, Frayn posits that people’s intentions are just as unknowable as the positions of tiny particles within an atom.

For actors, finding the intention of the character they will inhabit propels them into a thoughtful collection of evidence both before and during rehearsals – and for historical characters, this deep dive is a nearly endless pursuit. Actors want to know what triggers their characters, what inspires them to act, or what sometimes prevents them from acting when the situation demands it.

Prior to the advent of quantum mechanics, causality, the logic of cause and effect, was the central tenet of all science. But the new revelations of quantum mechanics changed the world as we know it. Suddenly it was possible for something to be in two realms at the same time. Suddenly it was possible to calculate that a particle could land within a range of imprecision. Through this lens, we can begin to understand that people will sometimes do the unpredictable without ever fully knowing why.

The uncertainty of human motivation is the great mystery theatre artists rigorously strive to unravel in bringing their characters to light. Frayn has given these brilliant actors you see before you a quantum playground to test these theories with their iconic characters. I hope this play cracks open the thrilling possibilities of uncertainty for you too.

Music credits

Last updated: November 4, 2021

All songs written by Jason "Chilly Gonzales" Beck (PRS/SOCAN)
All songs from Solo Piano & Solo Piano II Published by EMI Publishing Ltd.
All songs from Solo Piano III Published by Gentle Threat Ltd.
Performed by Chilly Gonzales
Courtesy of Gentle Threat Ltd.


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Head Carpenter: CHARLES MARTIN 
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