I am still waiting, still hoping, still trying for a second staging of my Copernicus play, “And the Sun Stood Still,” to follow its successful production in Boulder last spring. Finding another venue is proving even more difficult than I had imagined, but meanwhile the play continues to be heard. L. A. Theatre Works, a non-profit media arts organization with a forty-year history, will soon produce an audio recording of “And the Sun Stood Still” in its West Hollywood studio, under the direction of Rosalind Ayres of BBC Radio. When completed, the recording will become part of the L. A. Theatre Works repertoire, from which plays are regularly downloaded on iTunes, streamed on-line, checked out of 11,000 libraries, broadcast on various radio networks in the U.S. and abroad, and used by teachers in 3,000 American high schools.
On occasion, I have taken the part of Rheticus (Copernicus’s provocative young visitor) in informal enactments of two scenes from the play’s first act, with my friend and mentor Owen Gingerich of Harvard as Copernicus. Gingerich is an acknowledged world authority on Copernicus, which makes his rendition of the role an oversized in-joke for our audiences.
We performed first on a whim at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, where we were both attending an astronomy meeting in September 2012. It went well enough to be reprised at a Harvard Observatory “Open Night” last March. Gingerich promised to wear the blue velvet scholar’s robes that had been custom-made for him in connection with a ceremony in his honor held at a university in Poland. In Cambridge, after word got out about the “actor” and the costume, we filled the auditorium and the overflow space and still had to turn away a large number of folks.
We put on our act again this past November as part of an interdisciplinary weekend conference at Smith College on the theme of space. And we’re about to take the stage again this coming weekend – a command performance at the home of a rare book collector in Virginia.
All this fun is so much more than I envisioned when the idea for the play first occurred to me, forty-plus years ago. But I'd still like to see the play unfold on stage again, from a seat in a playhouse somewhere.