The Hard Problem is a tour de force, exploring fundamental questions of how we experience the world, as well as telling the moving story of a young woman whose struggles for understanding her own life.
Play title: The Hard Problem
Author (s): Tom Stoppard
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: 2015
Primary Discipline: Neuroscience
Scientist (s): Fictional
Source Texts: (Author’s Note) As for the science in The Hard Problem, I am in debt to more books than I can mention, and I have also enjoyed the privilege of exchanges with John Coates (whose recent work on hormone-related performance in the financial world the plot anticipates), Richard Dawkins, Robert May, Thomas Nagel, John Searle, Elliott Sober, George Sugihara and David Sloan Wilson. I owe particular thanks to Armand Marie Leroi who was a patient guide through the writing and saved me from numerous errors.
Character Breakdown: 4 men, 6 women
Spike, Hilary, Amal, Leo, Julia, Ursula, Jerry, Cathy, Bo and Elaine (on screen).
Time Period: Present day
Synopsis of Play: The Hard Problem is a tour de force, exploring fundamental questions of how we experience the world, as well as telling the moving story of a young woman whose struggles for understanding her own life and the lives of others leads her to question the deeply held beliefs of those around her.
Hilary, a young psychology researcher at the Krohl Institute for Brain Science, is nursing a private sorrow and a troubling question. She and other researchers at the institute are grappling with what science calls the “hard problem”- if there is nothing but matter, what is consciousness? What Hilary discovers puts her fundamentally at odds with her colleagues, who include her first mentor and onetime lover, Spike; her boss, Leo, and the billionaire founder of the institute, Jerry. Hilary needs a miracle, and she is prepared to pray for it. (Play Text Cover Blurb Grove Press)
First Performance Date: 21 January 2015
First Producer: The National Theatre, London
Performance History: The Hard Problem by Tom Stoppard was first produced on the Dorfman stage of the National Theatre, London, on 21 January 2015. Directed by Nicholas Hytner. Designed by Bob Crowley. Lighting Designer was Mark Henderson. Sound Designer was Paul Arditti. Music Supervisor was Matthew Scott.
Entered by: Denise Gillman/Brooke Sanders