Dreaming Darwin

February 12th marks anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, a British naturalist and one of the most important and influential thinkers of the Modern Age™. To further mark upon this already well-marked occasion, Lance Gharavi and Jake Pinholster assembled a team of talented artists to create a [r]evolutionary new work of theatre—a kind of “fantasy on a theme of Charles Darwin.” This entirely unnatural confection is a live-action hallucination on the life, impact, and ideas a man whose theories formed the very foundation of the life sciences. Based on months of careful, painstaking research and several phantasmagoric pixie-stix-and-Four-Loko binges, Dreaming Darwin features special guest appearances by Karl Marx, Batman, an actual gorilla, Gregor Mendel, Ayn Rand, and several other fictitious creatures. Thoughtful, funny, provocative, entertaining, and deeply human, Dreaming Darwin is a hauntingly familiar ghost story. Come see the production that’s already being called “the origin of specious”!

This is a dream. A ghost story. About what haunts us.

The great physicist Steven Weinberg once said, “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”

Of course, you could also say that about most things. Including plays. And physicists.

But even a play about a physicist would seem the very pinnacle of point-ness when placed next to the mind-shattering pointlessness of the death of a child, right? One’s own child? What could be more pointless than that?

Yet the theories of Charles Darwin, that great hero of modernity, pirouette at the intersection of children and death. That is to say, they depend upon, as their basic meaning-making units, the respectively (alternatively?) wondrous and terrifying realities of the birth of new generations and the termination of life.

My collaborators and I have been dreaming a little dream of Darwin—a dream of his life, his ideas, and the ways in which they have impacted the world since the publication of his magnificent On the Origin of Species more than 150 years ago. Conversely, we’ve also dreamed of the ways in which the world has since impacted [our notions of] Darwin’s life and ideas. On its face, this production is Darwin’s dream. But mostly, it is our dream of Darwin and of Darwinism. Even more mostly, it is a dream of us. In the US. Right now.

We are all Narcissus.

And as we peer into that reflective [gene] pool, we understand that our species has a deep need to make sense of the universe… and we employ science to pursue this need. Yet we also have an equally deep need not to live in a universe that is senseless… and we employ any number of means to stave of the impression that it is. For the pointlessness of the universe, and of our own existence within it—this vision towards which some say science points—seems utterly abhorrent to many. Like a violation of our deepest selves and sense of right. It is horrifying. Offensive. And profoundly unhuman.

We have tried to make it entertaining.

And that’s the real point, isn’t it? At least for plays, if not for physicists.

Dream with us. For we are all haunted.