How do you escape the shadow of your brilliant, infamous father? Do you pursue your own path, a path that leads to envisioning the first computer? Or do you follow the norm - marry a suitable man and start a family? It may sound like romantic fiction, but it’s not. This is the amazing story of Ada Byron Lovelace, in Lauren Gunderson’s Ada and the Engine, now though Thursday, February 9, at Stage West.
Ada’s interest in science and math has been encouraged from an early age by her formidable mother Annabella, who is determined that no shred of her father Lord Byron’s poetic and libertine nature should develop in her. Mentored by the eminent mathematician Mary Somerville, Ada’s abilities have flourished. But now it’s time for her to settle down and make a suitable match. And though Ada is drawn to the brilliant inventor and scientist Charles Babbage, she agrees to a marriage to William King, Lord Lovelace.
Ada finds herself caught in an odd sort of love triangle. On the one hand, she is mindful of her responsibilities to her children and her supportive husband. But on the other, she is so drawn to the music of numbers and the potential offered by Babbage’s Analytical Engine that she cannot give the relationship up. As pressures mount and feelings grow, Ada and Babbage make a revelatory discovery which will change everything. It’s an engrossing story about a woman well ahead of her time which makes you wonder—what might she have accomplished in another place and time?
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Lauren Gunderson is the most produced living playwright in America, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award and the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s 3-Year Residency with Marin Theatre Co. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. Her work has been commissioned, produced and developed at companies across the US including the Denver Center (The Book of Will), South Coast Rep (Emilie, Silent Sky), The Kennedy Center (The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful and Her Dog!), the O’Neill Theatre Center, Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Crowded Fire, San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre, Synchronicity, Olney Theatre, Geva, and more. Her work is published by Dramatists Play Service (Silent Sky, Bauer), Playscripts (I and You; Exit, Pursued By A Bear; Toil And Trouble), and Samuel French (Emilie). She is a Playwright in Residence at The Playwrights Foundation, and a proud Dramatists Guild member. She is from Atlanta, GA, and lives in San Francisco.
Ada and the Engine is directed by Emily Scott Banks, who recently directed Foxfire for Theatre Three. The cast features Kelsey Milbourn as Ada, with Steven Pounders as Charles Babbage. Playing the dual roles of Annabella and Mary Somerville is Megan Haratine, and returning to our stage is Stage West’s Associate Producer Garret Storms, just seen at Undermain in The Thanksgiving Play, as both Lord Lovelace and Lord Byron.
Set design is by Michael Sullivan, with lighting design by Adam Chamberlin, costume design by Becca Janney, sound design by David Lanza, projection design by Tristan Decker, and props and set décor by Lynn Lovett.
Ada and the Engine runs through Sunday, February 9. Performance times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00, with Sunday matinees at 3:00 p.m. Ticket prices for the new season are $35 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $40 on Saturdays and Sundays. Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations are advised). Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378), or at www.stagewest.org.
Ada and the Engine
by Lauren Gunderson
Now through February 9
821 W. Vickery Blvd.
Fort Worth, Texas 76104
Thursday Evenings 7:30 PM
Friday & Saturday Evenings 8:00 PM
Sunday Matinees 3:00 PM
$35 Thursday and Friday nights
$40 Saturday nights and Sunday matinees