Thursday, January 13, 2011


how why poster

By Sarah Teem
Directed by Emily Mann
Featuring Mercedes Reuhl & Bess Rous*

Evolution and emotion collide in Sarah Treem’s thought-provoking and sharp new play about science, family, and survival of the fittest. On the eve of a prestigious conference, an up-and-coming evolutionary biologist wrestles for the truth with an established leader in the field. This intimate and keenly perceptive play explores the difficult choices women of every generation face.

WHEN: January 7–February 13
McCarter Theatre, 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ 08540
TICKETS: for performance dates & times and to buy tickets, click HERE

Zelda Kahn (Mercedes Reuhl) is a 56-year-old senior professional at Harvard. In the first scenes, she meets her daughter, Rachel Hardeman (Bess Rous). Although they’ve never met, the similarities between Rachel and Zelda are striking, particularly in terms of their careers. Rachel is also a brilliant evolutionary biologist, and the play delves into the drama surrounding the two women’s relationship after they meet and their careers in the male-dominated field they work in.

the_how_and_why_155Their meeting is personal of course, how could it not be? But it’s also professional: Rachel has a theory that could rock the world of evolutionary biology. (Photo of Rous & Reuhl by Charles Erickson)

Special Programs

  • Dialogue on Drama
    Sunday, January 16
    (after the 2 PM performance)
    Dialogue on Drama is an in-depth post-show discussion focusing on the craft and artistry necessary to bring a play to life. Join Artistic Director Emily Mann and playwright Sarah Treem after the January 16 matinee performance for a conversation about Sarah’s process as she wrote and developed The How and the Why. Hear about Sarah’s inspiration for the play, what she’s learned in the rehearsal process, and how she worked with Emily, the actors, scientific experts and a dramaturg to revise throughout her time at McCarter. Sarah Treem will be available to sign your published copy of The How and the Why after this discussion.
  • Post-Show Discussions
    Post-show Discussions at McCarter are highly interactive audience-based conversations facilitated by an artist from the production. These discussions focus on a range of topics including how artistic choices were made for the production, background information on the play, and reflections and questions from audience members.
    Post-Show Discussions for The How and the Why will take place after the following performances:
    Wednesday, January 19 – 8 PM
    Sunday, January 23  – 2 PM
  • The How and the Why In Conversation
    McCarter Theatre invites you to an intimate, engaging, and provocative discussion about big ideas (Blazing Trails and Taking Names) in the play on February 6, after the 2 PM performance of The How and the Why. Moderated by acclaimed New York Times Science Writer, Gina Kolata, this round-table conversation will explore the many overlapping questions of gender, evolution, feminism, “adaptive stories” and generation gaps in the fields of Biology, Gender Studies and Theater.

Free and Open to the Public

*Bess Rous is a native of Short Hills and a graduate of the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. (Note from the maven: she is also the daughter of a friend, a young woman I have known since she was a little girl. I can’t wait to see her onstage!)