On Saturday, I picked up Tyler (yay for Bulldogs on the Bayou!) and headed to Alley Theatre to see Intelligence-Slave, the third of the Alley's world premieres this season.
« Intelligence-Slave is a fictionalized play based on a historic figure, Curt Herzstark, who invented CURTA, the smallest mechanical calculator for the basic four arithmetic operations that has ever been manufactured in large quantities. »
From an interview with playwright Kenneth Lin:
« To start, I was fascinated with [the world's first hand-held four function calculator]. It required no batteries at all, but ran on a series of gears, almost like clockwork. Then, I was fascinated with the dramatic tension inherent in a character who is being kept alive because he has invented something truly extraordinary. What will happen when he completes the invention and is then no longer extraordinary? Curt Herzstark, [a concentration camp prisoner], was the manager of a Nazi armaments factory. What would it mean to walk that tight-rope: to be killed if you are too ordinary, but also to be in danger if you stand out too much? I also loved that the most difficult problem in creating the calculator was the problem of performing subtraction.* I thought that was a profound metaphor to employ in the construction of a play about the Holocaust. »
*Hint: Method of complements
Also, from the back of the Playbill, a message from Frost Bank: