Legacy of Light

Two women scientists, living hundreds of years apart, explore the meaning of love, motherhood, family, art and science in this contemporary comedy.

Play title: Legacy of Light

Author (s): Karen Zacarías

Publisher: Contact Agent, Kate Navin   (knavin@gershny.com)

Publication Date: 2009

Genre: Comedy

Funders: Arena Stage

Primary Discipline: Astrophysics

Secondary Discipline: Optics

Scientist (s) and Historical Figures:

Émilie du Châtelet – In 1730’s France, Châtelet was a French natural philosopher and mathematician. 

Voltaire – As one of the leading enlightenment philosophers in France, Voltaire wrote many plays and poems leading to his imprisonment in the Bastille.  

Source Texts: Development for Legacy of Light was made possible through the research assistance from notable scientific consultants in the D.C. area including Jack G Hehn (American Institute of Physics), John W. Layman (University of Maryland), Jaylee M. Mead (NASA) Mercedes Lopez-Morales (Carnegie Institute), Vera C. Rubin (Carnegie Institution) and James H. Stith (American Institute of Physics).

Character Breakdown:

3 Men, 3 Women

Émilie du Châtelet, Voltaire, Olivia/Wet Nurse, Peter/Marquia du Châtelet, St. Lambert/Lewis and Paluline/Millie.

Setting: France and New Jersey

Time Period: 1700’s and present day

Synopsis of Play: Two women scientists, living hundreds of years apart, explore the meaning of love, motherhood, family, art and science in this contemporary comedy. Legacy of Light juxtaposes the story of Émilie du Châtelet, a mathematician, scientist, and lover of the great 18th-century philosopher Voltaire, who became unexpectedly pregnant at 42, and that of a 21st-century physicist desperately trying to conceive a child. (http://www.karenzacarias.com/plays/legacy-of-light/)

First Performance Date: May 8, 2009

First Producer: Arena Stage, Washington D.C.

Performance History: World premiere at the Arena Stage in Washington D.C. on May 8, 2009.  Directed by Artistic Director, Molly Smith.  The Creative Team includes Set Designer Marjorie Bradley Kellogg, Costume Designer Linda Cho, Lighting Designer Michael Gilliam, Sound Designer/Composer André J. Pluess, Production Dramaturg Jocelyn Clarke and Stage Manager Susan R. White.  The production was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.







Legacy of Light

Click to access arena-stage-study-guide-legacy.pdf

Link to Play Text: http://www.karenzacarias.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/ExcerptLEGACY-OF-LIGHT.pdf

Entered by: Denise Gillman / Brooke Sanders

Stephen Schnetzer as Voltaire and Lise Bruneau as 18th-century scientist Émilie du Châtelet, one of the main characters in Karen Zacarías’s new play at Arena Stage. (By Scott Suchman)

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