Dynamite was originally intended for the industrious and innocent purpose of construction, but it was turned into a weapon of war. The Chinese were searching for the elixir of immortality when they discovered gunpowder and
originally used it in firework displays, but it later became the ignition to the weapon that revolutionized warfare.
These inventions of innocuous design became the products of death and destruction. But is the inventor to blame? What is the moral responsibility of creators to the use of their creations? Playwright John Mighton explores this question and many more in his play Scientific Americans, which opened Feb. 5 at the Segal Centre.
and directed by Andrew Shaver, the show stars Trent Pardy as Jim, a young scientist struggling with the knowledge that his research with the U.S. Department of Defense may be used to create a powerful new weapon. As he wrestles with questions of moral integrity, his relationship with his fiancée Carol (played by Julia Course) begins to go downhill and she forces him to choose between her and the DoD.
This darkly comic love story is set in mid-1980s America, but asks the audience to consider moral questions still relevant today. “The play centres around questions of relationships and morality that I think are applicable to a lot of topics still around today; the creation of bombs, creation of weapons. Topics that were relevant then, are relevant now and will be relevant years from now,” explained stage manager Sarah-Marie Langlois.
Although the play is set against an American background, the themes are universal and are not affected by being portrayed by a Canadian cast. The show isn’t based on any specific events, but centres on the post-Cold War dystopia and mentality that pervaded the U.S. at that time.
Langlois has been working for SideMart for a couple years now and has stage managed a fair share of the company’s shows. She noted that SideMart has certain aesthetic qualities of production that many other companies in Montreal do not, which she said is what makes working for them so exciting. “It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes them so unique, it’s kind of like trying to catch a unicorn,” she said.
SideMart’s unique theatrical style has garnered them several awards and plenty of notoriety. For an example of their unique approach to theatre marketing, one has only to view their YouTube video promoting the show. Unlike traditional promotional theatre videos, this video features a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life of director Andrew Shaver. The video pokes fun at the cast and crew, showing the good-natured, fun-loving side of the company; an inviting spirit that should encourage audiences to feel at home with the cast and crew of SideMart. The video was conceived and directed by George Allister who also did video work for the production of Scientific Americans.
Scientific Americans runs from Feb. 5 to Feb. 26. Student tickets are $22. For more information or to reserve your tickets, visit www.segalcentre.org. You can check out the trailer at http://youtu.be/Lr2o6FzoIbM.