The Hard Problem

1/11/17 – 2/26/17


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.

Play Name

Show Information

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.


The Artists


Production Team


Debra Booth

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

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

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

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

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

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)

PRODUCTION STAGE MANAGER (1/11/17 - 2/19/17)

Anthony O. Bullock

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

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

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

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)

PRODUCTION STAGE MANGER (2/20/17 - 2/26/17)

Jana Llynn

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.


The Hard Problem pays worthwhile dividends
The Washington Post
this fascinating drama sparkles with fresh insights… It’s Tom Stoppard at his most provocative
DC Metro Theater Arts
The Hard Problem is dry and witty, even relatable in its own way. Most importantly, it is well paced and never boring
Broadway World
a sterling example of the signature style we have come to expect from Stoppard

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