Two Pasadena Institutions Create Perfect Blend of Art and Science With a Festival of New Science-Driven Plays

MACH 33 starts Monday, April 30 and continues in May

Published : Sunday, April 29, 2018 | 1:27 PM

In the current age, most professional playhouses are constrained by union rules as to who can perform in front of an audience, but it wasn’t always that way. The nearly-centennial-old Pasadena Playhouse is harkening back to days of old with a new spin, as it presents “MACH 33: A Festival of New Science” in conjunction with instructors and students from Caltech’s Theatre program.

Danny Feldman, the Producing Artistic Director of Pasadena Playhouse, said the plays, performed on three consecutive Mondays starting April 30, feature “theater students at Caltech, professional actors and JPL experts. To make it a true community festival, we wanted that mixture—it is a little more interesting (when it’s) more hyper-local and community-based.”

A performance of Theory of Nothing, written by Lolly Ward and directed by Nike Doukas will take place on Monday, April 30 at 8 pm; Out There Right Here, written by Anna Nicholas and directed by Brian Brophy will be seen on Monday, May 7 at 8 pm. Both will be presented on the Pasadena Playhouse Mainstage.

Lie After Lie After Lie, written by Stephen Diekes and directed by Susan Dalian at the Ramo Auditorium at Caltech (located south of the Beckman Auditorium on the Caltech campus with parking available at 332 South Michigan Avenue), will take place on Monday, May 14 at 8 pm.

These staged readings feature the work of new, unpublished plays by Los Angeles-area playwrights and it is the hope of the organizations involved to not only to create good theater but bring science to the masses in an easy and entertaining way.
“I’m a theater person I’m not a science person but this sort of opens the door to me in a new way. I think it’s a really great way for two great cultural institutions in Pasadena, Caltech and the Playhouse, to merge the efforts of science and scientific curiosity and knowledge with theater. (MACH 33) is readings of plays that are in development and are science-themed in some way; stories that capture some scientific curiosity and I think, ultimately, they illuminate science through theater. They are still plays about human beings and relationships—the normal things plays are about, but they either involve scientists or the story behind certain scientific things,” Feldman said.

Hosted by the Pasadena Playhouse, MACH 33 is produced by Caltech Theater and involves not only Caltech students, faculty and staff, but additional members of the Pasadena and Los Angeles science and art communities. Feldman hopes the collaboration is a lasting, successful, and expansive one.

“Caltech’s theater program has world-class scientists, students, and faculty who like making theater. They have that bug where they get to go onstage and do things. There’s also the benefit of ‘cross-pollination,’ and we’re thrilled about that. If the scientific theme, or idea, of the play that the playwright is writing, has, as an example, something about black holes, we have access to Caltech and JPL experts to learn from. I hope this is our first dipping [of] our toe in the pool of a partnership and it grows to something quite significant in the future,” he said.

Tickets for MACH 33: A Festival of New Science-Driven Plays are $15; Pasadena Playhouse members and students are $10. The series of all three are available for $40; Pasadena Playhouse members and students are $25. Tickets for MACH 33: The Festival of New Science-Driven Plays and Pasadena Playhouse memberships are available at or by calling (626) 356-7529.

Post-show discussions with the playwrights follow all readings.

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