Caution! Therapy in Progress!

May 26th, 2014 by

Caution Therapy in Progress Image

In the summer of 2012, a New York Times cover photo caught my eye. It was of a lecture hall full of grey haired men women, all smiling, laughing, and raising their arms in giddy triumph. The accompanying article, “Physicists Find Elusive Particle Seen as Key to Universe” was about something called the Large Hadron Collider, sub-atomic particles, and theoretical physics. I was utterly confused, but also intrigued. In the weeks that followed, I read more about this $9 billion dollar tunnel 100 meters below the Swiss-French border, designed to accelerate and smash together sub-atomic particles in hopes of detecting evidence of something called a Higgs Boson, which had, for decades been the basis of theoretical physics, but had not, until that day caught in that New York Times photograph been proven. In the popular press, the Large Hadron Collider project was commonly referred to as a quest for the “God Particle.” Some feared that, if it worked, it would create a black hole that would swallow the earth. At some point in my reading, I came to concepts of anti-matter, and dark matter I hadn’t heard since high school physics. It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but turns out to be the invisible, undetectable (until now) building blocks mass, and the keys to unlocking new physics beyond the “Standard Model.”

I was completely out of my depth. Yet, something in it all got me thinking of relationships, complete with their own hidden truths, their dark-matter subtext that governs all. And I wondered at what it takes to release such power, and to make the invisible visible?

That was the spark of my short play, Hadron Collision Therapy, where marriage therapy meets particle physics. In a different lecture hall at Lasell College in Newton, I hosted two separate readings of early drafts, and collected ideas for improving it from my fellow Playwrights’ Platform members.

Playwrights Platform meeting - February 2014

In December, 2013, in the basement of the Drama Book Shop in New York City, Fresh PRODUCE’d gave the play a workshop. Earlier this May, at the Wimberly Stage in Boston’s South End, the Charlestown Working Theatre pulled off the first fully-produced collision as part of the Boston Theatre Marathon.

It was fantastic.

If you missed those fleeting events (or caught them and want to see it again to grasp at the deeper mysteries), fear not. More collisions are scheduled for this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night in a new production directed by Bryn Boice, and starring Michelle Dowd, Tricia O’Toole, and Ben Stanton, as part of the 42nd Annual Summer Festival of the Playwrights’ Platform at the Boston Playwrights Theatre.

For tickets, click here.

Stefan Lanfer