Student Lab Rundown


Peter Wood, director of The Sandalwood Box, emphasized the dream logic of Mac Wellman’s play as a possible challenge for students: “There are shifts of place without traditional transitions, and language is poetic and heightened.”

He suggested that students might “think about how a poetic sensibility of language functions in dreams and memories – how they skip around sometimes.”

Wood likened the play to some aspects of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive: telling and retelling a story. He also drew parallels to "The Hunting of the Snark" – a nonsense poem penned by Lewis Carroll.

Read more about Wellman's plays on The Mumpsimus.


Commentary from Deviser and Performer Vivian Appler "In the Still of the Night" is the third in a series of plays that engage with theoretical physics. The 10-minute play, "Parallel Passengers," premiered at the 2010 Philadelphia Fringe Festival. "Particle Play: A Romance for Quarks, Strings, and Other Things," a 5-act play for puppets,masks, and music based on characters from the history of science and Edwin A. Abbott's _Flatland_, has appeared in staged readings in Verscio, Switzerland and in Hudson, New Hampshire. I am pleased to be staging this incarnation of 'In the Still of the Night: Andromeda's Dark Stuff' in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning (who knew there was a theatre in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning?).

"In the Still of the Night" came out of the idea to pursue an in-depth exploration of a small character that had appeared in 'Particle Play.' In that play, Vera was the inspiration for one of the chorus of Women Scientists/Insurrectionists. Vera, in that play, functioned as the voice of reason. I was lucky enough (after persistent telephone and email pestering) to obtain a couple of telephone interviews with Vera last year. She was intrigued with the idea of a play that could inspire young women who are interested in science to pursue science as a career.

"In the Still of the Night" has not been crafted in a 'traditional' playwrighting process (whatever that means). It is a piece of devised solo theatre, which means that I have done some writing, some movement,some prop/mask/costume assembling and building throughout the process. I also took a workshop with the clown teacher Pierre Byland in Switzerland this summer in order to help me rediscover my acting legs and to help me with my process of improvisation. I have been lucky to have had some good directorial support to help with fine-tuning the show as it nears its production at the University of Pittsburgh, but the development stage involved a lot of research, writing, and experimentation. 'In the Still of the Night' has been a work-in-progress since last fall, at which time I installed some ideas, images, questions based on interviews with Vera,research into Dark Matter, and bits and pieces from previous shows into that installation.

Although the piece is now on its feet, I still consider it a work in progress. I hope that this show will have a life beyond the Cathedral of Learning, so that it might actually reach some of those young women interested in pursuing a career in science, since advocating for equality in the sciences has been one of Dr. Rubin's lifelong endeavors. That, and continuing to ask difficult questions about galaxies, discovering dark matter, and being the first woman to observe at several observatories in the United States. Her story is an inspiration to me. I hope that it comes through in this piece!

Read more about Vera Rubin's pioneering work.