Silver Spring Stage proudly presents the area community theater premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s Ada and the Engine, directed by Jon Jon Johnson and produced by Alika Codispoti and Maura Suilebhan. Ada and the Engine will perform live virtually weekends January 15 to February 6, 2021.
Ada and the Engine time-travels the audience to early 19th-century England to introduce the brilliant Ada Byron Lovelace (Danielle Gallo), the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron (Walter Riddle). Her mother, Lady Anabella Byron (Dayalini Pocock), is determined that her daughter live out of the influence of the libertine Byron, so she has Ada learn mathematics and music. Ada is obsessed with her father and finds the connections of mathematical logarithms and poetry in music. She meets Charles Babbage (Kevin Dykstra), a mathematical genius and inventor. They form an intellectual connection and possibly more. Lady Byron dislikes the friendship and steers Ada into marriage with the uninspiring Lord Lovelace (Nick Temple). Ada manages her family and husband while finding time for scientific collaboration with Babbage, including the conceptual framework of the first computer. Ada and the Engine will enlighten and surprise with the dazzle of science and passion.
“I find such incredible intrigue in history,” says Playwright Gunderson. “Theater has this wonderful ability to feel like time travel, to write about historical moments. I have also always loved science. The energy of putting science on stage is very dramatic. Science belongs on stage.” Gunderson has compiled an impressive collection of plays on the subject. Silver Spring Stage has produced two of her science plays, Emilie: La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight and Silent Sky.
Growing up in Decatur, Georgia, Gunderson wanted to be a physics major but was drawn to writing. “These eureka moments, these struggles, specifically for women or people of color, in science where there is such bias against them, make for great drama. So that is why I turn to science and turn to history.”
Her plays, though, are not textbooks. She imbues her characters with intellect, heart, and struggle while appreciating that wit and humor are natural companions. While relationships are part of the arc of her characters, it is the yearning to transform themselves that drives their stories.
“The stories that deserve dramatization are the ones that tell us something about how we got to where we are now. The stories can’t just be something interesting from the past. They have to speak to this moment.” Ada and the Engine will draw audiences into the inspiring, absorbing, and heartbreaking current.
The cast also features Susan Holliday as Mary Sommerville. Understudies are Shana Laski (Ada), Diego Maramba (Lovelace, Babbage, Byron), and Nancy Blum (Lady Byron, Mary). The production team includes Kristen Davis (Stage Manager), Sophia Menconi (Assistant Stage Manager), Leigh K. Rawls (Set Designer), Ian Claar (Lighting Designer), Jeff Goldgeier (Sound Designer), Stephanie Yee (Costume and Properties Designer), Helen Aberger (Intimacy Choreographer), and Lena Winter (Dialect Coach).
Silver Spring Stage continues its season with A Dolls’ House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath (April 16 to May 8, 2021) and She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen (July 9 to 31, 2021).