In the spring of 1539, the young German mathematician Georg Joachim Rheticus journeyed hundreds of miles to northern Poland to meet the aged, reclusive astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
Play title: And the Sun Stood Still
Author (s): Dava Sobel
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: 2016
Funder: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Primary Discipline: Astronomy
Secondary Discipline: Physics
Nicolaus Copernicus: Physician, astronomer, and canon (church administrator) in Varmia, northern Poland.
Georg Joachim Rheticus: Mathematician from Wittenberg
Source Texts: De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium by Nicolaus Copernicus
Character Breakdown: 4 Men 1 Woman
Copernicus, Bishop, Rheticus, Anna, and Tiedemann Giese
Setting: Near the cathedral of Varmia in northern Poland
Time Period: Between 1539 and 1543
Synopsis of Play:
Using her knowledge, imagination, and gifts as a storyteller, Dava Sobel recreates one of history’s most significant and far-reaching meetings. In the spring of 1539, the young German mathematician Georg Joachim Rheticus journeyed hundreds of miles to northern Poland to meet the aged, reclusive astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. Some three decades earlier, Copernicus had floated the implausible- even ludicrous- theory that the Sun, not the Earth, remained stationary at the center of the universe. Copernicus was rumored to have written a book in proof of his idea, but withheld it from publication for fear of ridicule. In words that were never recorded, Rheticus convinced Copernicus to let him shepherd the manuscript into print as De revolutionibus orbium coelestium– the book that overturned humanity’s claim to a central place in the cosmos.
Dava Sobel vivifies their encounter, drawing out their conflicting personalities with wit and erudition. In the stars, where the Catholic Copernicus sought the true structure of the heavens, the Lutheran Rheticus thought he could see the fates of the empires. Their interaction, poised between the Reformation and the Rennaissance, illuminates the tension between science and religion. (play text cover blurb, Bloomsbury)
First Performance Date: March 28th, 2014
First Producer: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
Performance History: And the Sun Stood Still was originally commissioned by Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, artistic director, Barry Grove, executive producer, with funds provided by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation also generously supported the project. The play was originally developed and produced by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (Stephen Weitz, producing ensemble director), opening March 28th, 2014. It was directed by Stephen Weitz, the set design was by Tina Anderson, the costume design was by Katie Horney, the lighting design was by Richard Spomer, and the sound design was by Andrew Metzroth.
Entered by: Meaghan Yesford
Photo/Visual Research with citations
Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company