The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.
- Nikola Tesla
We are all complex creatures with our own habits that make us who we are, and I believe that all plays must, at their root, be studies of this individuality, but especially when writing about people from history. However important a historical figure might have been in his or her time, and however great the influence they might have on our lives today, first and foremost the audience must find the character, if not necessarily sympathetic, at least fascinating. And herein lie the challenges with Nikola Tesla.
There is no question in my mind but that he is absolutely fascinating, and probably the oddest and most unique person I have ever read about. The challenge is to celebrate his oddness, and never shy away from it, while still making him accessible to an audience. For all his visions and quirks and obsessions, he was still a human being looking to find his way through life, even if the life that he was looking at was very different to the one that most of us see.
To begin to understand the ideas that filled this extraordinary mind, to begin to understand what he saw; perhaps a wider range of the electromagnetic spectrum than others, which would have made him more aware of the vibrations of a wide range of magnetic waves. I THINK that he was also some way far along the Autism Spectrum Disorder path with his sensitivity to stimuli, dread of germs and obsessions with numbers and the order of things. Was this part of his brilliance, keeping him focused, often working alone 15 or 20 hours at a time, testing theories never before thought of?
How do I not only capture some fundamental understanding of his ideas, but also find ways to explain them, with only moments available in the play, to audiences no more educated in electromagnetism and gravitational waves than I am, one of the reasons that, as of now, I have 73 cues! My hope is to present ideas that would have revolutionized our world and, even more importantly, a human being who will touch your heart. I am grateful to the scholars and physicists who have guided me to this point, and I look forward to their continued advice, reprimanding and support.
And finally, I was very lucky to meet a Serbian couple here in Los Angeles who spoke strongly about the belief in Serbia that Tesla was, in some way, serving a higher purpose. This opened up a new level to my imagination, and, I think, has led to some of the most intimate moments in the play. I will say no more. You will simply have to see it!
The American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia
Thursday, May 31st, 2018
Free and open to the public! Reception at 5 PM, performance at 6 PM. RSVP to https://www.amphilsoc.org/form/magic-and-lightning-registration
Theatre West in Los Angeles Saturday, May 12th at 8 PM Tickets $25 will be at http://theatrewest.org/ nearer to the date.
University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Organized by Chris White
Bartlett Auditorium, Anchorage
Sponsored by The Standup Guys for Labor