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Program

Nerves

Hea! of the

A new play about reason and desire Written and Directed by Ashley Pearson

First Presented at Quest University Canada, February 2013

Swans. 1956. M.C. Escher.


Director’s Note I have always loved theatre programs which are more than a list of names. So, I’ve decided to include some notes on the play, some historical information, and even some math in what you’re reading. This play is concerned with religion and science, the place of rationality and emotion in the human experience, and the place of society in the governance of the self. I have not untangled many of the questions and ideas in this play from one another, my experience of them is similar to the play’s experience of them – they are interconnected in a messy, emotional, confusing and fundamentally human way. This experience has been a marathon. From the first inklings of a thought left to percolate in the back of my mind, these characters have leapt into existence, due in no small part to the fantastic cast I have had the pleasure to work with. The mathematical ideas are just as relevant as the characters in this show, and so I feel I owe them some time in the limelight. Feel free to peruse, study, glance at or commit them to memory as you see fit – I hope you find most things in here helpful and relevant to your experience of the play. Sincerely,

Ashley Pearson

The Torus

Torus. 2011. Wolfram Mathworld.

The outer shell of a torus is a mathematical object which looks, essentially, like a ring. Imagine, if you will, that you are a two-dimensional creature – a stick man perhaps. You are drawn onto a piece of paper. When you look forward, you look along the plane of the paper, you can’t see anything outside the paper. Now imagine someone folded the paper into the shape of a cylinder and glued the right and left edges together. Doing the same with the top and bottom edges as well makes the shape of a torus. As a two-dimensional person, you still can only look along the plane of the paper, but the paper is curved, and if this is your universe, your line of sight follows the curve of the paper. With a small enough torus, your line of sight would go all the way around back to where you’re standing. You’d be staring at the back of your own head! Imagine now that you walk in the direction you’ve been looking. Well, you’d eventually walk back to the same place you left. Recall that in this scenario you are a 2-dimensional creature, but you’re on a 3-dimensional torus. We, however, are 3-dimensional creatures, so for this scenario to apply to us, we would have to be standing in a 4-dimensional torus! In the play, Iris is transported into a space just like this – she is confronted with the back of herself, and returns back to the same place she left! Iris’s torus universe is incredibly tiny – it takes just a second to go around the whole thing. Some believe that the universe is actually shaped like a torus... its just much, much bigger!


Life in the Early 19th Century In 1802, Madam Tussaud unveiled her first exhibition of wax figures in London. For the first time, the British public came face to face with true replicas of themselves. The early 19th century was a period of social upheaval – mechanization had altered Britain’s working environment and the industrial revolution was in full swing. Women at the time had very little freedom. Their inheritance, if they were lucky enough to have one, went to their husband as soon as they were married. In 1803, having an abortion in the UK became punishable by death, marking a time when women did not even have rights to their own bodies. In June 1804, William Wilberforce succeeded in moving a bill through parliament to abolish the slave trade by British citizens. This marked another fundamental change in the perception of the self. With Frankenstein (or the Modern Prometheus), Mary Shelley challenged the most basic notions of humanity. Dr. Frankenstein creates a man who can read Paradise Lost and other great works of literature. But this man learns to be a monster through his experience of human cruelty and revenge.

Hunting Passenger Pigeons. Early 1800’s. Unknown.

The Mirror that Changes what you Look like... Take a moment to imagine you have never seen a mirror before. Suddenly, you are offered the chance to gaze into one, and for the first time you encounter your reflection. What would this be like? At first, perhaps you are in awe of yourself. Then you begin to examine closer. Your perception of yourself changes. You realize something new about what you see. Suddenly, the object meant to reflect to you exactly as you are has ended up changing who you are! This in turn changes your reflection, which in turn changes your perception of yourself, changes you... which changes your reflection again! This is a process of recursion. Recursion is the repeatedly applying a process the result obtained through that process. In our mirror Drawing Hands. 1948. M.C. Escher. example, you observe yourself, then modify your behavior based on your observations, then observe the modifications, and re-modify, ad infinitum. Self-recursion happens when an object is defined by itself. M.C. Escher’s Drawing Hands is a good example of this phenomenon. Our mirror example is somewhere in the middle. The reflection isn’t exactly you, or should I say, you are certainly not a mere reflection, but your reflection is definitely very much like you. More so than anyone else on the planet! We are not quite at the level of self-recursion, but we are certainly getting there. In the play, Iris encounters a number of recursive situations, not the least of which is her meeting with the other Iris.


The Iris Dresses: Tessellations of the Euclidian Plane Along with the philosophical ‘big questions’ I faced during the production of this play, I was also faced with a whole host of decisions I hadn’t realized I would have to make. For example, where the heck was I going to get 4 identical, period-appropriate dresses for my main character(s)?! After deciding I knew enough talented people that sewing the costumes was not an insurmountable task, I was up to the point of choosing what these dresses should look like. Of course, there was only one clear choice-- The fabric should have a tessellation on it. And what is a tessellation? you may be asking yourself. A tessellation, or tiling, is simply created by covering a plane with geometric shapes that have no overlaps or gaps. For example, pictured right is a tessellation created by Escher. We can see that the Butterfly. 1945. M.C. Escher. tiling started out with simple squares, which Escher then adjusted slightly to make into a butterfly pattern. The Iris dresses are covered in a tessellation created using squares as well. The squares are then detailed with flowers to create the complex pattern we can see on the final fabric, pictured below.

Objectivity, Identity, and Confronting the Self Who are you? I mean, really, who are you? I’m not sure about you, but for me this question is almost impossible to answer in any concise fashion. Of course you could tell me biologically that you are a human being, perhaps you could even tell me something about your mitochondrial DNA, or your genetic make-up. These things, along with your physical traits, make up your biological identity. But in another sense, this wouldn’t help me to ‘get to know’ you. I mean, the real you. What about your memories? What if you could recount one of those to me? Alas, this might not be enough either. The interconnected questions of ‘What is a self?’ and ‘How do we express ourselves?’ are two main motivations behind this play. Notions of the self are considered on many levels in my work. First and foremost, this work is an exploration of my self, and an expression of that self. On another level, the character Iris (‘I’ris) is confronted with two alternative interpretations of her self, created by the men who love her. But these expressions of Iris are reflected back as expressions of those men, the creators. Here, we encounter one of the primary problems of expression and self objectivity. Can we objectively experience another self? What does it mean to experience ourselves in an objective way? Can we ever express another’s self? The Flayed Angel. 1745. Jaques Fabien Gautier d’Agoty.


Caleah Dean

Lonnie Wake

Caleah is from Seattle, Washington. She has been performing in school productions since first grade and her favorite role was as Peppermint Patty in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown. Her favorite beverage is a pumpkin spice latte (not from Starbucks).

Lonnie’s exciting acting career has taken her all across the West Coast, from Whistler to Bowen Island to SFU and, finally, to Quest University. Although her love for the mountains has lured her away from her promising acting career, Lonnie is thrilled to trade her climbing shoes for Victorian dancing boots for this exciting production.

Ben Ironside Ben enjoys the view from the cafeteria, his classes at Quest, books, and life. He has acted in the past, and is grateful for the opportunity to continue acting with such a hilarious cast at Quest. He is playing James, and would like everyone to know that James has more money than Tari's character, William.

Sommer Harris Sommer grew up on Whidbey Island in Washington, where she rode a dolphin to school everyday. She likes to explore the woods, read books, and sing songs. She is thankful to be a part of this exciting project.

Sophia Leonard Ifeoluwatari (Tari) Ajadi Ifeoluwatari (Tari) Ajadi is a second-year Quest student from the United Kingdom/Nigeria. He enjoys art of all kinds, and tries to avoid making copies of people. He is quite loud.

Sophia Leonard is a first year Quest student from Seattle, Washington. Being on the cast of "Nerves of the heart" will be her first experience in acting. She likes milk tea and new things (Like acting).

Miriam Tepper Evon Zhao Weiyi Evon Zhao Weiyi has participated in many Quest theater productions such as Lysistrata, V-Days, Cabaret, etc. She believes theater is a kind of story telling that fosters intercultural understanding. She thanks Ashley for bringing her wealth, a brother, a husband, a best friend lost in life, and some other very bizarre friends...temporarily of course :)

Corey Michael Tzvi Silver Corey is a 1st year is relishing this opportunity to be in a play. He would like to thank every single person he has ever known for being so awesome and enriching his life. Lastly, he would like to thank you, the reader, for being a wonderful and beautiful individual that deserves at least 15 hugs a day for being a great person.

Miriam Tepper has participated in theatre since high school. She enjoys acting, costuming, and puppies. She is glad she did not have to dye her hair because she makes a horrid blonde.

Rob Knop Rob Knop is a professor of Physics and Astronomy here at Quest University. He last appeared on stage last year as a young boy in Claire Hately's "Of the Wonderful Kind", but has acted in, directed, and produced various community theater productions over the years. He wholly disproves of what Tari is doing.

Heather Harden Heather has had a love for theater and musical theater from a young age. Her role models include Lady Gaga, Adam Ondra, and she wishes one day to become Lana del Ray. In the mean time, Heather is very excited to be playing the role of Mariah in this production, as she enjoys tidying as much as she does acting.


Crew Stage Manager . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jeannie Rakamnuaykit Technical Gurus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Brad Klees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Roberto Guimaraes Photos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eline Huiskin Music Piano . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Barbora Varnaite Violin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John van der Sloot Bells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Leif Hout Percussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Brad Klees Costumes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nadine Crowe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Madeleine Eagleton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Lindsay Eastwood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kathy Gross . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jerie Pearson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ashley Pearson Props The Torus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nessa Bryce General . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vic Wang

Man. 1813. Faustino Anderloni.

This production would not have been possible without the guidance and support of many, including Justin Busch Drew Cortese Ryan Derby-Talbot Dustin Eno Katherine Gross David Helfand Rob Knop John Pearson Jerie Pearson John Prowse Annie Prudhomme-Genereux Scott Swan Rich Wildman and my wonderful Cast and Crew.


Nerves of the Heart Digital Program