See A Number at the Next Theatre!
Imagine science has given you the chance to raise your child all over again. What will you do differently? What regrets and mistakes can you avoid this time? Will your choices fundamentally change who your child turns out to be? Caryl Churchill, one of the English-speaking world's most brilliant playwrights, has imagined just such a scenario in her thrilling new work, A Number. When Bernard confronts his father Salter about the possible existence of "a number" of genetically-identical brothers, Churchill opens a Pandora's Box of penetrating questions about science and morality, nature versus nurture, and the definition of "identity".
Praise for A Number
"...filtered through the fervent, feverish, darkly mysterious theatrical imagination of British playwright Caryl Churchill. ... a production that could not be more riveting, incisive or chilling, and that leaves you arguing with yourself for hours afterward. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED" -Chicago Sun Times
"A terrific performance from [John] Judd, [who] has an intuitive, honest, everyman quality that's key to this work's impact. ... it's on fire with the complexity of ideas. " - Chicago Tribune
"Director B.J. Jones, in an economical but revealing one-hour staging, gives this intelligent, poetic chamber piece all the careful attention, respect, and love a playwright could wish for her creative offspring. And John Judd and Jay Whittaker make no false steps as they negotiate the play's many shifts and turns. " CRITIC'S CHOICE - Chicago Reader
Case Cloned: A Number and the Ethics of Cloning
by Rosie Forrest
Few debates have remained as active throughout history, and as passionately wrought as the nature-nurture debate. The questions raised by this timeless contest far outnumber its answers, yet it is the mystery itself that lures scientists, doctors, religious leaders, and the general public to the central issue. Why is the ambiguity so compelling? What cultural phenomenon draws our attention to such studies as "twins separated at birth," and "is there a homosexual gene?" Certainly scientific discoveries related to this topic present findings that could influence medical treatments, prevention, and prognoses. Additionally, research suggesting environmental influence has a sociological impact on our understanding of our world. Perhaps more fundamental and simply human, however, is our need to know what lies in our hands: what can we control?
While the nature vs. nurture debate has existed for hundreds of years, the media's interest has piqued recently in response to the notion of cloning. Understandably, the media represents the questions surrounding the issue of cloning in a manner to which we can all relate: the levels of impact cloning could have on our lives. As is the nature of science, it cannot be kept in the labs, and suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of a very personal debate. Margaret Talbot's article in The New York Times Magazine in February 2001 begins with the story of two parents who lost their 10-month-old son to a medical mishap during a relatively minor surgery. "The idea preoccupied them that their little son's genotype deserved another chance, that it had disappeared by mistake and could be brought back by intention." These parents and thousands like them seek with great desperation the help of controversial organizations such as the Raelians (a quasi-religious organization which believes that a combination of human cloning and "mind transfer" can ultimately provide immortality). The promise of another chance with one's son, daughter, father, or wife, holds great power over the individuals longing to "get it right."
How far we may be from such a reality is unknown, and whether a line should be drawn is a question that will be frequently posed. This is new territory, and with such pioneering efforts comes fear-both justified and unfounded. What many scientists do convey is the doubt that a cloned human could even be the exact replica of its source. It is here that we return to nature vs. nurture. Identical twins, arguably identical in their genetic makeup, have differing personalities. The parents above might clone their 10-month-old son, but the new son would then be raised by parents who suffered the loss of their original son. The cloned son would likely be affected by his parents' heartbreaking experience. The decision to clone the original son would be in their control, but his response to his emotionally-altered parents, remains out of everyone's hands. The questions resurface. In this struggle, as we postulate and gather evidence, the one sentiment that seems common is that reality often exists somewhere between the fear and the dream.
Mention Xunesis and get $5 off of Tickets for A Number
Mention Xunesis when you buy tickets for A Number at the Next Theatre Box Office and you will get $5 off each ticket. Buy your tickets in person (Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston, IL 60201) or by calling 847-475-1875 x2. Enjoy the show!