W=S: A Nobel Scientist’s Racist Theories
By Ivan K Schuller & Adam Smith
Directed by Kim T. Sharp
104 West 14th St.
March 27, 2018, 6:30pm
With: Teri Black*, Michael Edmund*, Kevin Hauver*, Sherrell Johnson, Eric Kuzmuk, Brad Makarowski*, Susan Richard, Brian Richardson*
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association
Past and present, historical and fictional, science and humanity are all intertwined in this play revolving around the origin and effects of the Information Age. William Shockley, 1956 Nobelist, co-inventor of the transistor and arguable Father of the Information Age, provides the dramatic center of gravity in a work which explores the coexistence of scientific genius with deeply controversial personal convictions.
A large donation to establish a major research facility at Bradford University starts a series of uncontrolled events, since the donor’s one condition is to name it after William Shockley. As the events at Bradford unfold in the present, more and more of Shockley’s contradictory and controversial life unfolds in the historical past following his invention of the transistor.. Namely, his increasing dedication to his unpopular eugenic theories on intelligence and race. From the Black Student Alliance to the physicists on campus to the eager journalist covering the event, no one at Bradford is silent as a controversial spark becomes a firestorm. The plausible present-day fictional events are closely mirrored by improbable, yet very real developments related to the most important invention of the 20th century. The play closes with a surprising outcome at Bradford University and a mystery in the life of Shockley.
Many recent public controversies related to the inheritability of IQ—from fellow Nobelist James Watson’s public remarks to the furor over a series of articles and editorials in the popular press— make this play particularly timely and important.