ADA AND THE ENGINE
by Lauren Gunderson
April 13 – May 12
It’s like Jane Austen meets Steve Jobs in the story of Ada Lovelace –
the world’s first computer programmer
A bright, ambitious young woman. A wary mother, who has seen where too much freedom can lead. A brilliant man, whose ideas are almost revolutionary – almost.
And the legacy of a legendary and deeply flawed father whose genius was matched only by his reputation…
These are the ingredients of Lauren Gunderson’s new play ADA AND THE ENGINE, which follows the extraordinary life and work of Ada Byron Lovelace – whose magnificent mind imagined our digital world more than a century before the dawn of the computer age.
Know Theatre is proud to bring another inspirational tale of a trailblazing woman of science to our stage, following the smash-hit run of Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky in 2016. But this time, instead of exploring the cosmos, ADA AND THE ENGINE explores the creativity and ingenuity that would ultimately lead to the digital revolution – starting in the unlikely place of 1830s England.
Ada Byron Lovelace was more than your average high society girl – despite being the daughter of celebrated (but notorious) poet Lord Byron. Pushed by her cautious mother from artistic pursuits into scientific study and mathematical exploration, Ada soon discovered she had a knack for numbers…and that numbers, poetry, and music have more in common than her mother would like her to realize.
Enter Charles Babbage, one of the greatest inventive minds of his age, whom Ada meets at a society party in her late teens. The much older Babbage captures Ada’s imagination with his prototype for a “Thinking Machine” – a device that can take the human error out of calculations by performing them automatically, by machine.
But this story is more than a historical account of an unprecedented scientific discovery – the story of Ada & Babbage is one filled with unrequited love, forbidden poetry, and the consequences of English high society’s extreme pressures.
And like many of Gunderson’s plays in 2016, it’s also full of humor, music, and heart.
Ada and Charles soon discover a profound intellectual connection, which blossoms into an emotional one, as well. But in 19th Century British high society, one cannot always follow one’s heart, even when your soulmate is also your mental match.
Know Theatre brings together the creative team behind 2016’s Silent Sky to uncover this lyrical and romantic tale for you. Producing Artistic Director Andrew Hungerford takes the helm as director, scenic and lighting designer, and is ready to transport you into this sweeping historical drama that is rooted in Victorian England while having its eyes on the future.
And we’ve assembled a cast of Cincinnati all-stars to help him along the way. Tess Talbot makes her return to the Know as Ada Byron Lovelace, after her critically-acclaimed run in our 2017 world premiere of Kara Lee Corthron’s Listen for the Light. Playing both Ada’s embattled mother Lady Byron and pioneering scientist Lady Somerville is the inimitable Annie Fitzpatrick.
Know audiences last saw Brian Griffin in 2013’s wildly acclaimed production of When the Rain Stops Falling, and we are proud to welcome him back as the complicated genius Charles Babbage. And Cary Davenport, last seen in 2016’s rock musical Girlfriend, takes a decidedly different turn as Ada’s devoted-yet-distant husband.
Why is the Know so excited to bring this tale of ingenuity to life, right now? Says Associate Artistic Director Tamara Winters,
“Ada’s story is one that resonates beyond her century – not only because her discoveries were fundamental to the very way our modern society functions, but also because who hasn’t rebelled against being told what her place should be? Who hasn’t felt the pull of a larger purpose, despite society’s pressure to do as you’re told? And who hasn’t yearned for a larger understanding of the world – and fought like hell when they’ve discovered someone who can help them get a glimpse of it?
Ada’s story is both specific and universal – personal, but also world-changing. It’s a story of a phenomenal woman who changed the course of history, but it’s also a story of how the potential to change the world lies in all of us: we just have to look for the spark.”
ADA AND THE ENGINE is the inspirational tale that every lover of poetry, science, and progress is hungering for. Open your mind and your heart at this uplifting new play, onstage April 13 – May 12 – only at the Know.
- Tess Talbot as Ada Byron Lovelace
- Annie Fitzpatrick* as Lady Byron/Lady Somerville
- Brian Griffin as Charles Babbage
- Cary Davenport as Lord Lovelace/Man
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States, appearing under a Special Appearance Contract.
- Director, Scenic & Lighting Designer – Andrew J. Hungerford
- Scenic Charge & Prop Designer – Sarah Beth Hall
- Costume Designer – Noelle Johnston
- Sound Designer – Douglas Borntrager
ADA AND THE ENGINE is made possible with the generous support of Drew Gores & George Warrington, Dan & Fran Bailey, and the Warrington Foundation.
ADA AND THE ENGINE by Lauren Gunderson
- 8:00 pm April 13, 14; 18, 19, 20, 21; 25, 26, 27, 28; May 2, 3, 4, 5; 9, 0, 11, 12
- 3:00 pm April 15, 22*, 29, May 6
*A pre-show brunch is available on this date with purchase of $35 “Brunch + Show” tickets in advance. Deadline for brunch reservation is April 16. Brunch provided by Water Tower Fine Wines.
Know Theatre of Cincinnati. 1120 Jackson Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. In historic Over-the-Rhine.
- $25 regular Price
- $15 Rush tickets at the door 10 minutes prior to curtain (when available)
- FREE walk-up tickets are available on Wednesdays, as part of Know’s Welcome Experiment initiative. Advance reservations to Welcome Experiment performances are $5.00.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting knowtheatre.com or calling 513.300.5669 (KNOW).
Know Theatre is Cincinnati’s Theatrical Playground. The Know showcases unexpected voices, new works, and plays that embrace the inherent theatricality of the live experience. Know Theatre seeks to be a place where artists and audiences feel welcome to take artistic risks, creating work that is cutting edge and accessible.
Know Theatre’s work is made possible, in part, by the generosity of community contributions to the ArtsWave Campaign.
The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Know Theatre with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
Know Theatre is also supported by The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, helping to change our communities for the better through collaboration and innovation, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, which provides a simple, powerful, and highly personal approach to giving.
Know Theatre is a member of Theatre Communications Group and an Associate Member of the National New Play Network.
# # #