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Science and the Arts

Delia MacDougall and Mark Rafael Truitt (Photo: David Allen)


Written by Matthew Wells

A Staged Reading by Break-A-Leg Productions
Monday, May 20, 6-7:30 pm
Elebash Recital Hall

Schrödinger's Girlfriend is best described as "Einstein meets 'The Blue Angel." Peppered with cabaret songs, vaudevillian comedy, and stirring moments of passion and epiphany, Schrödinger's Girlfriend is an Orton-esque romantic comedy about love, sex, and quantum physics. In 1926 the physicist Erwin Schrödinger proposed the famous non-relativistic Schrödinger equation and recognized soon thereafter that it was equivalent to Heisenberg's matrix mechanics formulation for what is now known as quantum mechanics. The play follows the odd, erotic, symbiotic relationship between Erwin Schrödinger, a physicist, and Hansi Haas, a cabaret star whose thirst for knowledge is insatiable. Schrödinger is grappling with the logical absurdities that govern subatomic behavior when he meets the maddeningly unavailable Hansi Haas, who has a knack for theoretical physics and counts Einstein, Niels Bohr and Max Planck among her many admirers. Schrödinger believes that by watching this compelling woman he can find the key to the seeming contradiction of wave/particle duality which confounds the scientific community. Schrödinger, however, finds it increasingly difficult to remain an impartial observer. If he succumbs to his growing desires, will the mysteries of Hansi and the universe be forever unsolved? If he were finally to become Hansi's lover, would she not eventually leave him, as she did Einstein, Heisenberg, Planck, and Bohr before him? Schrödinger soon succumbs to her charms as well, but Hansi leaves him for yet another physicist: Paul Dirac. It is while plotting his revenge that the devastated Schrödinger eventually realizes that the truth of love - as long as you don't ask the question, the answer can always be yes - is also a truth of quantum physics. He then creates the famous thought experiment that bears his name: Schrödinger's Cat.

Matthew Wells is a New York playwright. Despite the esoteric content of the play, Wells himself has no formal education in science beyond the standard high school courses, although he does confess to a long-standing interest in the subject, beginning in the 1970s when he read a biography of Einstein. "I could never get into the math, but I found the concepts behind it, the visuals and analogies, fascinating," he says. His interest in the theater also began in high school, with a "very watered down" version of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones. "I realized, in my 17-year-old arrogance, that I could probably write my own plays," he says, adding, "It was another 10-15 years before I started writing anything that was actually any good." Wells has had a few other plays produced Off-Off-Broadway in New York City. Schrödinger's Girlfriend was recently performed at The Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco from October 26 through November 18, 2001.

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For further information contact Brian Schwartz,

All events are held at The Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave (at 34th Street)

The Science and the Arts series is presented by the Science Center and is part of the Continuing Education and Public Programs at The Graduate Center. Free and open to the public. For tickets contact: phone: (212) 817-8215, email: or visit the web site