Master dramatist Tom Stoppard’s newest play follows Hilary, a young psychology researcher at the prestigious Krohl Institute for Brain Science. As she and her colleagues grapple with the ‘hard problem’ of defining consciousness, a thorny decision from Hilary’s past fuels her controversial stances—and a few suspect choices. Bristling with intellectual energy and searing wit, The Hard Problem explores the difference between our brains and our minds, the nature of belief, and how to reconcile hard science with lived experience.
Runtime: 1 hour and 45 minutes with no intermission.
Environmental Warnings: Cigarettes will be smoked in this production.
The Hard Problem is generously underwritten
by Joan and David Maxwell
and Mark Epstein and Amoretta Hoeber.
Studio Theatre is grateful to Rick Kasten
and Mark Tushnet and Elizabeth Alexander for their
additional support as Artistic Director’s Circle members.
Born Tomáš Straüssler in 1937 in what would soon be Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, Tom Stoppard and his family lived in Singapore and India before settling in England in 1946. Although he would go on to write thrillingly (and notoriously) intellectual plays, the young Stoppard was bored by school and left at 17 to work as a journalist. When he was 21, Stoppard saw Peter O’Toole play Hamlet, and decided that he was interested in writing for the stage.
Over the next eight years, Stoppard completed several radio plays and even a novel (Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon) before his first success on stage: the dazzling 1966 comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, in which two minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet take center stage. The play debuted at the Royal National Theatre in 1968, transferred to the West End and then to Broadway, where it won Tony and New York Drama Critics awards for Best Play. Stoppard has continued to write award-winning plays over the course of his career, plays that vary in tone from highly literary and comic (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; The Coast of Utopia), to experimental and musical (Every Good Boy Deserves Favour), to scientific (Hapgood; Arcadia), or more overtly political (Indian Ink; Rock ‘n’ Roll). Stoppard is also a successful screenwriter whose work includes Anna Karenina, the BBC mini-series Parade’s End, co-writing Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and sharing writing credit on 1998’s Academy Award-winning Shakespeare in Love.
Stoppard has received an impressive array of accolades over his career, including five Tony Awards, a Drama Desk Award, and a Laurence Olivier Award in addition to his Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. In 1997, Queen Elizabeth II knighted Stoppard. Receiving the high honor at Buckingham Palace was a touching experience for Stoppard, who fondly speaks of the event: “I have felt English almost from the day I arrived, but the knighthood puts some kind of seal on that emotion.”
(As of May 2013)
Matt Torney is entering his fifth season as Associate Artistic Director at Studio, where he has previously directed If I Forget, Translations, The Hard Problem, MotherStruck!, Hedda Gabler, Jumpers for Goalposts, The New Electric Ballroom, and The Walworth Farce. Prior to his work at Studio, Matt served as the Director of Programming for Origin Theatre in New York, an Off Broadway company that specializes in European new writing. His New York credits include Stop the Tempo and Tiny Dynamite at Origin Theatre (Drama Desk Award nominee), The Twelfth Labor at Loading Dock, The Dudleys at Theatre for the New City, The Angel of History at HERE Arts, and Three Sisters and A Bright Room Called Day at the Atlantic Theatre School. Regional credits include Brighton Beach Memoirs at Theatre J (nominated for two Helen Hayes Awards), Sherlock Holmes and the Crucifer of Blood and Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme at Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, and Improbable Frequency at Solas Nua (Helen Hayes Award nominee for Best Choreography). International credits include Digging for Fire and Plaza Suite with Rough Magic (National Tour), Angola workshop at the Abbey Theatre, Paisley and Me at the Grand Opera House Belfast, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at Making Strange (Irish Theatre Award nominee for Best Director), and Woyzeck at Rough Magic (Best Production nominee at the Dublin Fringe Festival). Originally from Belfast, Matt holds an MFA from Columbia University.
(As of August 2019)
Shravan Amin returns to Studio Theatre after appearing in Edgar & Annabel. He also appeared in The Hard Problem at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. In the DC area, his credits include Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare Theatre Company, When January Feels Like Summer at Mosaic Theater, If All The Sky Were Paper at The Kennedy Center, Very Still and Hard to See at Rorschach Theatre, and The Jungle Book at Adventure Theatre. Mr. Amin also performs improv comedy at regionals shows and festivals. He has trained at the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory and Washington Improv Theater.
(As of December 2016)
Kyle Cameron makes his Washington DC debut with The Hard Problem. His previous credits include the world premiere of Trouble Cometh at San Francisco Playhouse; Johnny Baseball! at Williamstown Theatre Festival; and numerous productions such as Ring Round the Moon, The Seagull, and Richard III at NYU's Graduate Acting program. Mr. Cameron's Canadian credits include three international tours and an off Broadway run of Cranked, The History Boys at Arts Club Theatre, and The Secret Garden at the National Arts Centre. His film and television credits include Vampire at Sundance in 2011, Orange is the New Black, The Lottery, and Murdoch Mysteries. Mr. Cameron holds an MFA in Acting from New York University.
(As of December 2016)
Joy Jones returns to Studio Theatre after performances in Cloud 9, Invisible Man (Helen Hayes Award: Outstanding Ensemble), and Belleville. Off Broadway credits include Zaide at Lincoln Center Festival and The Champion at BRIC Media Arts and workshops at The Public, Playwrights Horizons, and New Dramatists. International credits include Tantalus at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Select regional credits include Mary T & Lizzy K at Arena Stage; Ruined and Tantalus at the Denver Center; Fences at Everyman Theatre; Invisible Man at Huntington Theatre; and Pericles and Romeo & Juliet at PlayMakers Repertory. Recently, she was featured in String Music on BBC4 and in the independent film The Confidential Informant. Ms. Jones holds an MFA in acting from UNC-Chapel Hill.
(As of December 2016)
Emily Kester last appeared at Studio in Edgar & Annabel. She was most recently seen in The Last Schwartz at Theater J and Eurydice at NextStop Theatre Company. Other DC and regional credits include Equus at Constellation Theatre Company; The Little Mermaid, 101 Dalmatians, and Double Trouble at Imagination Stage; The BFG with Imagination Stage & The National Children's Theatre (Helen Hayes Award nomination for Best Ensemble); She Kills Monsters and A Softer World at Rorschach Theatre; A Christmas Carol at Triad Stage; The Tempest with The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival; and The Ugly Duckling with Bright Star Touring Theatre. Ms. Kester earned her BFA in Acting from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
(As of December 2016)
Tessa Klein returns to Studio after appearing in The Hard Problem (Helen Hayes Nomination) and Chimerica. Broadway and Off Broadway credits include War Horse at Lincoln Center Theater; The Weir and Philadelphia, Here I Come at Irish Repertory Theatre; and A Touch of the Poet at 14th Street Theatre. DC and Regional credits include Labour of Love at Olney Theatre, An Ideal Husband at Shakespeare Theatre; Argonautika at Shakespeare Theatre, McCarter Theatre, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre; The Call and The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall at Theater J; The Trojan Women at Alabama Shakespeare Festival; Hamlet, She Stoops to Conquer and Aristocrats at Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre. Film and television credits include The Whitest Kids U' Know, Disappearances, and Peter and John. She studied at Moscow Art Theatre and holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University.
(As of November 2018)
David Andrew Macdonald has appeared on Broadway in Skylight, Rocky, Mamma Mia!, Coram Boy, Two Shakespearean Actors, and the National Tour of Stephen Daldry's An Inspector Calls (Jeff Award nomination). His Off Broadway credits include A Night and her Stars and The Green Heart at Manhattan Theatre Club. He has appeared in world and American premieres by Lucinda Coxon, Theresa Rebeck, and Emily Mann at Yale Rep, The Alley Theatre, and McCarter Theatre Center. Across the U.S. and Canada, Mr. MacDonald has worked at The Old Globe, Hartford Stage, Wilma Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, The Cape Playhouse, Manitoba Theatre Centre, and many others. His television credits include Elementary, Person of Interest, The Blacklist, The Big C, Michael J. Fox Show, Law and Order, Law and Order: SVU, Sex and the City, Another World, and ten years as Edmund Winslow on Guiding Light. Mr Macdonald is a graduate of The Juilliard School.
(As of January 2017)
Nancy Sun makes her Studio Theatre debut with The Hard Problem. Off Broadway theatre credits include Red Flamboyant with Firebone Theatre, An Infinite Ache at Access Theater, and Pornography for the People at the Dream Up Festival. Television credits include The Slap, The Family, and Younger. This spring, she will be making her feature film debut in Going in Style. Ms. Sun is a Meisner-trained graduate of the Maggie Flanigan Studio and the University of Pennsylvania.
(As of December 2016)
Nancy Robinette has been affiliated with Studio since the late 1970s, first as a student and then performing in The Woolgatherer, Camino Real, Tribes, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Play About the Baby, Three Sisters (1995-96), Ivanov, The Seagull, Afterplay, Frozen, Souvenir, Slavs!, The New Electric Ballroom, and Laughing Wild. Her recent work at Studio includes Three Sisters (2016-17) and The Hard Problem. Ms. Robinette most recently performed on Broadway in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. She has also performed on most of the DC stages, and at the McCarter Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Roundabout Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, The Globe Theatre, as well as in Key West and the former Yugoslavia. Film and television credits include Louie, Serial Mom, Soldier Jack, and the upcoming Three Christs. Ms. Robinette is a Woolly Mammoth Theatre Alumna and an Associated Artist with Shakespeare Theatre Company.
(As of March 2017)
Michael Russotto returns to Studio Theatre for The Hard Problem, having last appeared in Love! Valour! Compassion! Mr. Russotto is a member of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, where he has performed in productions such as The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, A Bright New Boise, and She Stoops to Comedy. Other regional credits include Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Legacy of Light at Arena Stage as well as Copenhagen and The Christians, at Theater J. His work in Washington has earned him several Helen Hayes Award nominations in the Outstanding Lead Actor and Outstanding Ensemble categories. Film and television work includes Playing Through and The Battle of Bloody Lane. Mr. Russotto can be heard on the LA Theatre Works recording of Seven Days in May with Ed Asner. He has also narrated hundreds of recorded books. In March he will make his Cleveland Play House debut in Between Riverside and Crazy.
(As of February 2017)
Martin Giles is an actor and director based in Pittsburgh, PA. He returns to Studio Theatre after playing Leo in The Hard Problem last season. His most recent work includes playing Joseph Stalin in Collaborators for Quantum Theatre, and Pats Bocock in Sive and Capulet in Romeo And Juliet, both for Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre. He has taught acting and directing at the schools of drama of Point Park University, Ohio University, and Carnegie-Mellon University.
Katie Beth Hall makes her Washington, DC theatre debut at Studio Theatre. She was last seen as Baby June in Gypsy at The PlayHouse and Miss Flannery in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jr. at The Woodlawn in San Antonio. Other recent acting credits include the short film The New 35 and Investigation Discovery's Shadow of Doubt (Season 2). Ms. Hall is in her first year of Adventure Theatre MTC's pre-professional theatre program. She is a 7th grade homeschooler who enjoys piano and singing, studies tap and hip hop, and is a student of Krav Maga. Having moved around the country with her military family, she is now a D.C. and N.Y. based film/tv and theatre actress.
Debra Booth is Director of Design at Studio Theatre, where she has designed If I Forget, Translations, The Wolves, The Father, The Hard Problem, Moment, Constellations, The Apple Family Cycle, Jumpers for Goalposts, Belleville, Cock, Edgar & Annabel, Bachelorette, Moonlight, Blackbird, My Children! My Africa!, The Pillowman, and many others. Her international work includes premiere opera Marco Polo (Tan Dun/Martha Clarke) in Munich, Hong Kong, and New York. Regionally, Debra’s credits include Small Mouth Sounds at Round House Theatre; Richard III, The Collection, and The Lover at the Shakespeare Theatre Company; Marisol at Hartford Stage and The Public Theatre; Trying, The Illusion, and Happy Days at Portland Stage Company; the New York premiere of Angels in America at The Juilliard School; Broken Glass at Philadelphia Theatre Company (Barrymore Award nomination); and Moon for the Misbegotten at Yale Repertory Theatre. Debra is the recipient of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Artist Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Design Grant, and a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.
(As of October 2019)
Michael Giannitti was Resident Lighting Designer at Studio Theatre from 2006-2010; since 1991 he has designed 45 productions at Studio, including The Hard Problem, Jumpers For Goalposts, Water by the Spoonful, The New Electric Ballroom, American Buffalo, Reasons to Be Pretty, Rock ‘n’ Roll, The Pillowman, and Seven Guitars (Helen Hayes Award nomination). He designed lighting for the Broadway premiere of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. His Off Broadway credits include Cross That River and Sounding Beckett. He has designed extensively for Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Dorset Theatre Festival, Capital Rep, Trinity Rep, Shakespeare & Company, and the Weston Playhouse. Giannitti has also designed for Arkansas Rep, Barrington Stage, Chautauqua Theatre Company, Virginia Stage, Indiana Rep, Portland Stage, George Street, Yale Repertory Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, and the Spoleto Festival. He has been on the faculty at Bennington College in Vermont since 1992. As a Fulbright Specialist, he taught in Romania and New Zealand, and has been a guest lecturer at the Guangxi Arts Institute in China.
(As of August 2018)
Sarah Cubbage's Off Broadway credits include Soho Repertory Theatre, Theatre for the New City, Aquila Theatre Company, Urban Stages, Ohio Theatre, and Atlantic Stage 2. She has also designed at at Everyman Theatre, Center Stage, Rep Stage, Syracuse Stage, American Repertory Theatre, Hangar Theatre, Northern Stage, Premiere Stages, and Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey. Ms. Cubbage’s Associate/Assistant Broadway design work includes Fish in the Dark, A Delicate Balance, It’s Only a Play, This is Our Youth, Bullets Over Broadway, and Big Fish. She has worked on films such as A Clerk’s Tale directed by James Franco, So Over You directed by Karen Odyniec, and Half the Perfect World directed by Cynthia Arzaga Fredette. Her dance credits include Dark Lark for BAM at Kate Weare Company, and The Radio Show (Bessie Award, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion). Ms. Cubbage holds an MFA from New York University. She is also a member of USA 829.
James Bigbee Garver returns to Studio Theatre after designing Cock, Lungs, Mary Kate Olsen Is In Love, Moth, Contractions, Skin Tight, and 2-2 Tango. In Washington, DC his work has been heard at Signature Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Folger Theatre, Round House Theatre, Theater J, CityDance Ensemble, Word Dance Theatre, and Georgetown University, among others. Some of Mr. Garver’s New York credits include Theatre Row, PS122, 92nd St. Y Harkness Dance, Joyce SoHo, Japan Society, World Financial Center, and Robert Wilson's Watermill Center. His installation and sound art work has been on view at the Smithsonian Institution's Hirshhorn, American, and Natural History Museums, Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera Festival, and the Megapolis Audio Festival, among others. Mr. Garver is a member of the Theatrical Sound Designers And Composers Association. He received his training at the University of Washington in Seattle.
(As of December 2016)
Lauren Halvorsen is in her ninth season as Studio’s Associate Literary Director. Her dramaturgy credits here include Doubt, P.Y.G. or the Mis-Edumacation of Dorian Belle, Admissions, Kings, If I Forget, Vietgone, The Wolves, Skeleton Crew, The Father, Three Sisters, The Hard Problem, Hand to God, Moment, Between Riverside and Crazy, Chimerica, The Wolfe Twins, Belleville, Water by the Spoonful, Tribes, The Real Thing, The Motherfucker with the Hat, The Aliens, Bachelorette, The Big Meal, and Time Stands Still. Previously, Lauren spent three seasons as Literary Manager of The Alley Theatre. She was the Artistic Associate of the WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory for six years and has worked in various artistic capacities for The Kennedy Center, City Theatre Company, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, First Person Arts Festival, and The Wilma Theater. Lauren is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College.
(As of December 2019)
Elizabeth Forte Alman returns to Studio Theatre after coaching Cloud 9 earlier this season. Residing in the DC area for over 15 years, she has coached productions at the Kennedy Center, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Round House Theatre, Rep Stage, and Everyman Theatre. Maintaining a private practice of voice, speech, and performance coaching, she engages clients from the Congressional, Department of State, and Department of Defense community; members of multi-national organizations and corporations; and practitioners in the fields of health care, law, science, journalism, education, investment banking, public relations, and acting. Currently a member of the Performance Faculty at George Mason University, Dr. Alman has taught Acting and Voice classes at the University of Maryland, Catholic University of America, the Academy of Classical Acting at George Washington University, and the University of Maryland- Baltimore County. She is a Shakespeare's Globe Fellow, a Cosmos Club Scholar, and an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework®. Dr. Alman received her PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Maryland, an MFA from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival/University of Alabama Professional Actor Training Program, and a BA from Illinois State University.
(As of December 2016)
Anthony O. Bullock returns to Studio Theatre after previously being the Resident Stage Manager for two seasons. Prior Studio credits include The Hard Problem, Cloud 9, Hedda Gabler, Moment, Between Riverside and Crazy, Chimerica, Jumpers for Goalposts, and Laugh. Additional DC area credits include Signature Theatre, Arena Stage, Baltimore Center Stage, and Theater J, where he will be their new Resident Stage Manager for the 2019-2020 season. Other regional credits include McCarter Theatre Center, Barrington Stage Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Passage Theatre, and Shakespeare & Company, among others. He toured with The White Snake by Mary Zimmerman in association with the Goodman Theatre, as part of the Wuzhen Theatre Festival in Wuzhen, China. Anthony received his BFA from Oklahoma City University. He is also on the board of The Stage Managers’ Association as the Eastern Regional Director. He is a proud member of AEA.
(As of April 2019)
Victoria Gruenberg has previously appeared at Studio assisting Michael Kahn on Cloud 9, Shana Cooper on Straight White Men, Matt Torney on The Hard Problem, and Jackson Gay on Three Sisters. Princeton main stage directing credits include Anouilh’s Antigone, Annika Bennett’s Spackle, and Johnna Adams’ Gidion’s Knot. Main stage acting credits include Cloud 9; Uncle Vanya; Kiss Me, Kate; and Sunday in the Park with George. She has worked under John Rando, John Doyle, and Tim Vasen, as well as several South African directors during her time with ASSITEJ South Africa and Cape Town Edge. Ms. Gruenberg is a recipient of the Frances LeMoyne Page Prize for Outstanding Achievement in the Creative Arts, and a recent graduate of Princton University's English and Theatre programs.
(As of April 2017)
Lauren Pekel returns to Studio Theatre after stage managing last season’s Bright Colors and Bold Patterns. Additional Studio stage management credits include Cry It Out and Vietgone, in addition to her numerous assistant stage management credits with Studio including P.Y.G. or the Mis-Edumacation of Dorian Belle, Skeleton Crew, The Father, and No Sisters, among others. Her DC theatre credits include productions with Woolly Mammoth, Theater Alliance, Imagination Stage, and Arts on the Horizon. Regionally, she has worked with the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program, the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, and Skylight Music Theater in Milwaukee, among others. Lauren is an alumna of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s Theatre Program, with a BFA in Stage Management, and is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association.
(As of August 2019)
Jonathan Ezra Rubin returns to Studio Theatre for Constellations after fight directing Animal for Studio X and Mary-Kate Olsen Is in Love for Studio 2ndStage. Choreography credits include Flying V Fights: Heroes & Monsters, The Pirate Laureate and the King of the Sea, Lobster Alice, Flying V Fights: Love is a Battlefield, The Best of Craigslist, and The Pirate Laureate of Port Town at Flying V; Macbeth at the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society; She Kills Monsters at Marshall High School; Shakes Alive! Tour and Romeo & Juliet at Maryland Shakespeare Company; Hamlet at Lumina Studio Theatre; Klecksography: Haunting Monsters — Wolfman at Rorschach Theatre; and Social Creatures at Single Carrot Theatre. Coming up in June, his choreography will also be seen in LiveArt DC's The Merry Death of Robin Hood, Cohesion Theatre Company's Neverwhere, and Flying V's Matt & Ben. Mr. Rubin is recognized as an Advanced Actor/Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors, and freelances as a fight choreographer.
(As of February 2016)
Jana Llynn returns to DC for The Hard Problem after many years in NYC. At Studio she was the ASM for the extension run of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Broadway credits include The Drowsy Chaperone, Bridge & Tunnel (Tony Award), Company, and The Moliere Comedies. Off-Broadway credits include SILENCE! The Musical, SHOUT! The Mod Musical, Dream A Little Dream (The Mamas & The Papas Musical, starring the original Papa Denny Doherty), Matt & Ben (starring Mindy Kaling), The Shawl (directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Dianne Wiest), and productions at The Public Theater and Carnegie Hall. Ms. Llynn was also the PSM for Beau Jest for three years Off-Broadway and directed the Boston production. Recent regional credits include Sweat at Arena Stage and The Night Alive at Round House Theatre. Industrial credits include the Pfizer-Brazil Viagra Launch.