Avant Bard restarts ‘Ada and the Engine’

Stopped by COVID two years ago, Lauren Gunderson's whimsical scientific history returns.

Arlington’s Avant Bard Theatre is staging Lauren Gunderson’s Ada and the Engine as the company’s second mainstage show of its 32nd season. At the helm is Megan Behm, who directed Avant Bard’s uproarious hit A Misanthrope and the original production of Ada and the Engine, which was set to open two years ago just as the world closed down due to the pandemic. 

Dina Soltan in ‘Ada and the Engine.’ Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

Ada and the Engine follows Ada Lovelace (Dina Soltan), the only legitimate child of the amorous poet Lord Byron, who had a love of her own: mathematics. Well, that … plus a certain polymath-inventor, Charles Babbage (Matthew Pauli), famous as “the father of the computer.” While it’s true that Babbage invented the hardware — the Analytic Engine — the language, the song, the soul of the thing, the programming, was all Ada. 

Dina Soltan and Matthew Pauli in ‘Ada and the Engine.’ Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

From prolific playwright Lauren Gunderson (author of the inspirational Emilie, which Avant Bard produced to great acclaim in 2017), Ada and the Engine is a whimsical scientific history that once again proves the future is, and has always been, female. 

Megan Behm (she/her/hers) is a director and arts administrator with over ten years of experience working in the DC area. Before becoming a Producing Partner at Avant Bard, she held positions as the Deputy Managing Director at NextStop Theatre and as the Director of Marketing and Communications at Mosaic Theater Company. At Avant Bard, she directed Ada and the Engine and the Helen Hayes-nominated A Misanthrope. Other recent directing credits include Pride and Prejudice and the Helen Hayes Award-winning 45 Plays for 45 Presidents at NextStop Theatre, Switch and the Helen Hayes nominated To Tell My Story with The Welders, and Cymbeline with the Virginia Shakespeare Festival. 

Ada and the Engine will run March 5 through 26, 2022, presented by Avant Bard Theatre performing at Gunston Arts Center, Theatre Two, 2700 South Lang Street, Arlington, VA, where there is ample free parking. Tickets ($40) are available online or by calling 703-418-4808. Pay-What-You-Can (PWYC) tickets are also available online in advance for previews and Saturday matinees at 2 p.m.

COVID Safety: Proof of vaccination is mandatory for entry into the theater. A negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours is accepted from patrons with a religious or medical exemption. Face coverings must be worn at all times when inside the venue, including while watching the performance and when using the restrooms. Avant Bard follows the VDH/CDC recommendations for preserving public health. 

Coming Next: The season continues in May, with Suddenly Last Summer by Tennessee Williams, directed by Avant Bard Artistic Director Emeritus Christopher Henley and featuring veteran Avant Bard actors Sara Barker and Cam Magee. Suddenly Last Summer was originally scheduled to run in repertory with Ada and the Engine when the pandemic canceled all theater in March 2020. We are so thankful for the opportunity to bring these shows back for their full runs. 

Avant Bard Theatre is an Arlington-based performing arts organization dedicated primarily to producing classic works — both time-tested and contemporary classics; emphasizing a provocative, bold approach in an intimate setting; and training and showcasing the best emerging talent in the region, mentored by seasoned, professional theater artists. Avant Bard’s mission is expressed through its commitment to artistic excellence, collaboration, developing talent, and promoting educational and social outreach. Learn more at avantbard.org. 


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