A new play byPeter Parnell
Directed byGordon Davidson

Beaumont Theater

Alan Alda is a life-long science buff. For eight years, he was the host of PBS' series "Scientific American's Frontiers", where he regularly held in-depth, unscripted discussions with scientists about their work. So it should have been no surprise when this Emmy-winning actor came up with the idea of portraying one of the great scientists of the 20th century: the late Richard Feynman, a Nobel laureate with a larger-than-life personality and a career that included developing the atom bomb and explaining the puzzle of the space shuttle Challenger's explosion. Alda brought a book about Feynman—Tuva or Bust! by Ralph Leighton—to director Gordon Davidson, our colleague who runs the venerable Center Theater Group in Los Angles. Davidson, who himself studied electrical engineering before moving onto a life in the theater, embraced Alda's idea and commissioned a script from Peter Parnell (whose early plays Andre Bishop produced during his years at Playwrights Horizons). After many drafts, the play grew beyond the scope of Leighton's book, as Parnell was inspired by Feynman's own writing. The result was "QED," a captivating theatrical evening that played at LA's Mark Taper Forum and was then reprised the following season at the Beaumont. The title of the play, by the way, is short for both the Latin phrase 'quod erat demonstrandum' (meaning 'that proves it') and for the field of physics Feynman spent much of his life exploring: quantum electrodynamics. But this wasn't an evening of inscrutable science talk. Feynman spent his career making science matters intelligible to the public at large and this play honors Feynman's accessible style.