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Shakespeare mastered the dramatic gore associated with eye-gouging when King Lear was first produced more than 400 years ago. Playwright Lucas Hnath (whose new play Red Speedo is running now at Studio Theatre’s Studio Lab) further explores the scientific consequences of eye-gouging in his latest work. What, you may ask, does poking oneself in the eye with a needle have to do with science? For a young Isaac Newton, that bloody experiment helped him better understand how humans see. In Isaac’s Eye, Hnath rethinks Newton’s world and his early experiments and shows how a farm boy went on to discover gravity and create calculus while also surviving 17th-century plagues. And since representing the thought process on stage can yield rather dull results, Hnath introduces contemporary dialogue and a bit of dramatic competition from his own imagination between Newton and Robert Hooke, an older, potentially wiser, and much grumpier scholar who challenged Newton at Cambridge. Local audiences can hear Hnath’s thoughts on Newton, science, and eye-gouging when he discusses the play following a reading at the National Academy of Sciences.
The reading begins at 6 p.m. at the National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Ave. NW. Free. Registration required. (202) 334-2415. cpnas.org.