The How and the Why

The How and the Why

Sunday, October 7, 2012 - 2:00pm

THE HOW AND THE WHY at Central Square Theater
The Nora Theatre Company presents the New England Premiere
September 27 – October 21, 2012

CAMBRIDGE – From September 27 through October 21, The Nora Theatre Company will proudly present the New England Premiere of Sarah Treem’s THE HOW AND THE WHY at Central Square Theater. The Press Performance is Monday, October 1 at 7:30PM.

On the eve of a national conference Zelda, an acclaimed evolutionary biologist, is visited by Rachel, an ambitious graduate student. The two women share a zeal for science, a bold and contrarian approach to the male-dominated field, and much more. During the course of the visit, the young scholar challenges the older woman’s “grandmother hypothesis” with a radical theory of her own that she believes will change the way people regard sex. Emotion and evolution clash with humor and passion in Sarah Treem’s (HBO’s In Treatment) new play about the competitiveness and sacrifices needed to succeed as a woman in science.

For this New England Premiere, The Nora Theatre Company’s Associate Director, Daniel Gidron directs. Last season, Mr. Gidron directed the critically acclaimed productions of the Boston Premiere of Photograph 51 and Arabian Nights, for which he won the 2012 Independent Reviewer of New England (IRNE) Award for Best Director, Drama, Midsize Theater.

Debra Wise, Artistic Director of Underground Railway Theater (The Nora’s sister resident company at Central Square Theater), will portray acclaimed evolutionary biologist, Zelda Kahn. Performing in science-themed productions is not foreign territory to Ms. Wise who earned a 2012 IRNE Nomination for her performance as Sara Turing in Hugh Whitemore’s Breaking the Code. Ms. Wise is also the Co-Director of Catalyst Collaborative@MIT, a science-theater collaboration between MIT and the two resident theater companies at Central Square Theater. Joining Ms. Wise is Samantha Richert as Rachel Hardeman. Ms. Richert is a recent graduate of Brandeis University’s MFA Acting program. She has performed with Primary Stages in New York City, Berkshire Theatre Festival, and Actors’ Shakespeare Project, among others.

THE HOW AND THE WHY runs from September 27 through October 21, 2012 at Central Square Theater at 450 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ticket prices range from $15 to $50 with discounts for students, seniors, and groups. For tickets or more information, the public is invited to call 866.811.4111 or visit


Several years ago, a boyfriend gave Sarah Treem a book about female physiology, Woman: An Intimate Geography by New York Times Pulitzer Prize Winning reporter Natalie Angier. In this book Ms. Treem read about two theories: The Grandmother Hypothesis and another called The Toxicity of Sperm.

As an undergraduate, Ms. Treem, curious about playwriting, saw a production Emily Mann’s Still Life which gave her the answer to the question “How does one write a play?” In an interview at the McCarter Theatre Company for the World Premiere of THE HOW AND THE WHY (directed by Emily Mann), she recounted that experience and the answer to that question: “…you put people in a room who have very good reasons to be furious at each other and you don’t let them leave. That’s how you create dramatic tension. THE HOW AND THE WHY is somewhat based on that principle.”

While Ms. Treem has acknowledged that the play is about science, she suggests the center of the play is the relationship between the two women, commenting “I was interested in what it means for me and my generation to be daughters of the feminist generation.” She goes on to mention Susan Faludi’s Harper’s article, “American Electra: Feminism’s ritual matricide,” about the generational divide in the feminist movement. Ms. Faludi proposed that the contemporary women’s movement "seems fated to fight a war on two fronts: alongside the battle of the sexes rages the battle of the ages."

In THE HOW AND THE WHY, Ms. Treem notes that “the scientific argument serves as a metaphor for the generational conflict. And the characters actually have a harder time letting go of emotional intelligence from generation to generation than scientific principles.” Through the characters’ passionate argument and debate about their own respective scientific theories, Ms. Treem not only explores intergenerational views on feminism, but also what happens in society when women become leaders in professions with a perception of being exclusively for men, and how that impacts the women’s lives.

Production History

THE HOW AND THE WHY received its World Premiere at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey from January 7 through February 13, 2011. It was directed by Emily Mann, with Academy and Tony Award-Winning Actor, Mercedes Ruehl as Zelda and Bess Rous as Rachel Hardeman. Since then, it has been presented at InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia, and 1st Stage in McLean, Virginia.

About Playwright Sarah Treem

Born in Boston, Sarah Treem is the only writer to have written and produced all three seasons of the acclaimed HBO series In Treatment, for which she won a Writer’s Guild of America award and was nominated for a Humanitas award. She is also a writer/producer for the Mark Wahlberg/Stephen Levinson produced HBO series How To Make It In America and is currently adapting Samantha Peale’s novel The American Painter Emma Dial for HBO with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Emily Ziff. Ms. Treem participated in the 11th annual Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Film and TV Master Class in Israel in July 2009 and in a conference session titled “How They Did It: Turning an Israeli series into HBO’s In Treatment” for New York Women in Film & Television in March 2010. In addition to THE HOW AND THE WHY, her full-length plays include Empty Sky; Against the Wall; Mirror, Mirror; A Feminine Ending; and Human Voices. A Feminine Ending received its World Premiere at Playwrights Horizons in Fall 2007, was subsequently produced at South Coast Repertory and Portland Center Stage in 2008, and is published by Samuel French, which has also published Mirror, Mirror. Human Voices was part of Manhattan Theater Club's Springboard's New Play Series and New York Stage & Film’s Powerhouse Reading Season in 2007. Ms. Treem has been in residence at The Sundance Institute, The Ojai Playwriting Conference, The Screenwriters Colony, and the Yaddo Artists’ Colony. She has been commissioned by South Coast Repertory and Playwrights Horizons, and has been a fellow with the Lark Playwrights’ Workshop. Ms. Treem has taught playwriting at Yale University, where she earned her BA and MFA.

About Director Daniel Gidron

Daniel Gidron, The Nora Theatre Company’s Associate Director, recently helmed Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51 for The Nora Theatre Company as well as The Nora and Underground Railway Theater’s critically acclaimed production of Arabian Nights, for which he won a 2012 IRNE Award for Best Director, Drama, Midsize Theater. He has also directed the World Premiere of Amy Merrill and Si Kahn’s Silver Spoon, Hysteria, The Caretaker, The Lady With All The Answers, The Cherry Orchard in a World Premiere Translation by George Malko, and We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay! for The Nora at Central Square Theater. Mr. Gidron has directed many other productions for The Nora including its 2007 production of Buried Child, for which he was nominated for an IRNE Award for Best Director, Drama, Small Theater. Other directing work for Underground Railway Theater (the other resident theater company at Central Square Theater) includes The Me in the Mirror by Paul Kahn, about the late disabilities rights activist and artist Connie Panzarino. Mr. Gidron has worked with many other companies such as The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Shakespeare & Company, Tremont Theatre (where his production of Golda’s Balcony won both IRNE and Elliot Norton Awards for Best Solo Performance), Opera Boston, Peterborough Players, Shakespeare Now!, Mountain Playhouse, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, and La Mama ETC. In Israel, where he was born, he has directed at Habimah National Theater, Haifa Municipal Theatre, Arab Theatre, Beit Lessin, Dror Theatre, and Beersheva Municipal Theatre. He has taught at Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Brandeis University. He currently teaches at UMass Boston.

About the Cast of THE HOW AND THE WHY

Debra Wise (Zelda Kahn) is a founding member of Underground Railway Theater and has served as Artistic Director since 1998. She has been involved in the collaborative creation of over 30 new works as performer, playwright, director, and/or dramaturg. Ms. Wise is also Artistic Co-Director of Catalyst Collaborative@MIT, an initiative pairing theater artists and scientists to create new plays and to frame the production of classic plays with conversation about science and society. From 1997–2003, Ms. Wise co-directed the Women on Top Theater Festival of new works by New England women theater artists. She has performed with companies both in New York (The Public Theater and the Ark, with Julie Taymor and Elizabeth Swados) and in Boston. She is Theater Specialist for the Art Works for Schools Program, a
collaboration with Harvard’s Project Zero, teaching thinking in and through the arts and across the curriculum.

Samantha Richert (Rachel Hardeman) is delighted to be making her Nora Theatre Company debut. A recent graduate of Brandeis University’s MFA Acting program, Ms. Richert enjoyed roles there in Three Sisters (Irina), Funnyhouse of a Negro (Landlady), Sunday in the Park with George (Nurse/Blair), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Princess), and Little Monsters (Sara) in association with the New York Theatre company Primary Stages. Other credits include: Berkshire Theatre Festival in Moonchildren (Shelly), Babes in Arms (Bunny Byron), Christmas Carol (Ghost of Christmas Past), and Candide (Woman #1); Rude Guerrilla Theatre Company in San Diego (Nurse/Mother Theresa); Actors’ Shakespeare Project in Antony & Cleopatra (Assistant Director/Choreographer); Emerson College in The Hallway Plays (Fight Choreographer); and Alive Theatre Company in 4:48 Psychosis (Director), Kate Crackernuts (Director), and Puppet Show (Director/Choreographer/Creator).

Returning to The Nora are set designer Eric Levenson (last season’s World Premiere of Amy Merrill and Si Kahn’s Silver Spoon, Not Enough Air, The Sea Horse, Dublin Carol, Smelling a Rat, Stop Kiss); costume designer Gail Astrid Buckley (The Lady With All the Answers, Not Enough Air, We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!, Full Gallop, Betrayal, The Countess); lighting designer Scott Pinkney (We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!, Full Gallop, Van Gogh in Japan, The Unexpected Man), sound designer Dewey Dellay (Photograph 51, Hysteria, A Moon for the Misbegotten, The Caretaker) and properties coordinator Megan Kinneen (scenic painting for A Moon for the Misbegotten). Joining The Nora for the first time is Emily Crochetiere as Associate Lighting Designer. Dominique D. Burford is the production stage manager.

Central Square Theater (CST) is a 5-year-old nonprofit organization, created through a groundbreaking partnership between The Nora Theatre Company (The Nora) and Underground Railway Theater (URT). This collaboration has been called a model for the arts community (The Boston Foundation, Culture is our Commonwealth, and The National Collaboration Prize), as it has paired two like-minded performing arts organizations in a strategic alliance with the City of Cambridge and MIT, resulting in the development of a state-of-the-art performing arts center in the heart of Central Square. CST has a mission to support its two theaters-in-residence while maintaining a shared vision of artists and audiences creating theater vital to their communities. The Nora and URT have a combined track record of over 50 years producing award-winning theater. Located in Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and steeped in its multiracial, intergenerational, ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods, the CST theater experience exudes a democratic energy where classes, races and age groups come together to be inspired, entertained and energized.

Press inquiries should be directed to Central Square Theater Marketing Director Nicholas Peterson,
phone: 617.576.9278 x205 or via email

The balance of Central Square Theater's 2012-13 Season includes ARABIAN NIGHTS adapted by Dominic Cooke, co-produced by The Nora Theatre Company and Underground Railway Theater (November 23 – December 30, 2012); THE MOUNTAINTOP by Katori Hall, presented by Underground Railway Theater (January 10 – February 3, 2013); The World Premiere of OPERATION EPSILON by Alan Brody, presented by The Nora Theatre Company (March 7 – April 28, 2013); and DISTRACTED by Lisa Loomer (May 9 – June 2, 2013)., both are projects of Catalyst Collaborative@MIT, a science-theater collaboration between Central Square Theater’s resident companies and MIT All productions are performed at Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Central Square Theater is accessible to persons with special needs and to those requiring wheelchair seating. (need the new language for CC@MIT productions, Operation Epsilon is also in the CC@MIT program this year)

For further information please call 617.576.9278 x210 or visit

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