2011/2012 SEASON americanrepertorytheater.org
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ADA LOVELACE The daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, (1815 – 1852) is considered by many to be the world’s first computer programmer. Her prodigious mathematical skills and love for science led her to correspond with Charles Babbage, inventor of the first mechanical computer. Her notes on Babbage’s “Analytical Engine,” in which she describes the method by which the early computer could calculate a sequence of Bernoulli numbers, is recognized as the first computer program. Today, Ada stands as a testament to the achievements of women in technology and science— the British Computer Society awards a medal in her name, and an annual Ada Lovelace Day celebrates the achievements of women in technology and science.
“That brain of mine is something more than merely
mortal; as time will show… Before ten years are over, the Devil’s in it if I have not sucked out some of the life-blood from the mysteries of this universe, in a way that no purely mortal lips or brains could do.” – Ada Lovelace to Charles Babbage, 1843
Julian is a fictional soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War. His situation is modeled after those many soldiers who took part in Grant’s Overland Campaign (also known as the Wilderness Campaign) in the summer of 1862. The campaign, though a crucial strategic victory for the Union, was also the bloodiest in American history. Over 11,000 soldiers lost their lives in just two months. Between harrowing engagements with Robert E. Lee’s army, soldiers like Julian endured harsh living conditions in the tangled, humid wilderness of Virginia.
“A soldier must have a heart like a stone to stand all that he is compelled to go through. All my hopes is that the war will soon be to an end, and I will live to come home and sit by your side…” - Union soldier R. M. Goldwaite to his wife, 1862
we’ve been afforded in the age of the Internet is presenting new possibilities in terms of democratic and peaceful revolution. Maybe the Internet is a machine that creates peace. Maybe it’s a machine that creates peace, a lot of spam, and other horrible things. Julian and Ada’s story makes you think about our technology and to what extent it is advancing our civilization. My band The Lisps has always loved telling stories through music. Ever since we started playing more than six years ago, people would tell us: “You guys should write a musical.” At our live shows, we use a lot of costumes, we banter with the audience, we argue and joke amongst ourselves. In crafting FUTURITY, we’ve built a narrative around the way we act, the way we make music, the way we play together as a band. After the show, more often than not, people come up to me and say, “That was crazy! Half the time I felt like I was at a concert, half the time I felt like I was in this ridiculously epic musical.” I hope that this piece
“I guess I’m a ‘techno- optimist,’ but I feel like the plethora of information and connectivity we’ve been afforded in the age of the Internet is presenting new possibilities in terms of democratic and peaceful revolution.”
reconfigures what people think of as “musical theater.” I like the idea of taking back the word “musical” from signifying a specific genre, a specific way of singing or a specific way of playing music. We’re telling a story, and we’re using music as a major component of how we tell that story. One of the main characters is a musical instrument; the Steam Brain itself is played by Lisps drummer Eric Farber and is comprised of handmade kinetic and mechanical percussion instruments. As a band, we’ve toured around the country for years in our minivan, playing shows for sometimes lots of people and sometimes nobody. It’s very exciting for a band to come up with this completely unreasonable idea, and then have the opportunity to bring it to life with an amazing group of artists and visionaries and technicians at the A.R.T. In a way, creating FUTURITY has mirrored the process that Julian goes through in the drama. Through unlikely collaboration, we strive toward utopia.
César Alvarez is lead singer of the Lisps and plays Julian Munro in FUTURITY: A Musical by the Lisps.
ABOVE: A CLOSE UP OF CHARLES BABBAGE’S “ANALYTICAL ENGINE,” THE FIRST MECHANICAL COMPUTER.
LEFT: WASHINGTON ARTILLERY OF NEW ORLEANS. CHARLESTON MUSEUM.
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