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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Before The Curtain Goes Up: The How and The Why

Evolution, feminism and destiny collide in Sarah Treem's play about science, family, and the difficult choices that women face.

Evolution, feminism and destiny collide in Sarah Treem’s The How and The Why, a play about science, family, and the difficult choices that women face.

Why do women menstruate? Modern science has supplied us with the “How,” but no one has answered the “Why.” Rachel, a young grad student in evolutionary biology, visits Zelda, a pioneer of the field. She posits a radical new hypothesis to answer this question, challenging Zelda’s groundbreaking work. As the two brilliant women spar over their contrary views on science, career and generational divides, the ulterior motives surrounding their intense meeting slowly begin to unravel.

“I was drawn to the script due to its frank discussions of women’s bodies as well as the difficult choices women face in male-dominated industries,” says Tanya Mathivanan, artistic and managing director of Aenigma Theatre. “It also features two complex, nuanced, complicated, often contradictory characters who hold differing beliefs, lived experiences and world views. The science and social issues discussed in the play are grounded by deeply personal stakes and emotional heft. Science, much like people, is not always clear-cut and is constantly evolving.”

Aenigma Theatre first produced The How and The Why in Vancouver in 2018 to critical acclaim. The production garnered Bronwen Smith, who plays Zelda Kahn, a Jessie Award nomination for best actress (small theatre). After being twice delayed by the pandemic, Aenigma remounts the show at the Evergreen Cultural Centre as part of their 2022-202323 season with the original cast of Smith and Annie Arbuckle back in the roles.

In this edition of Before The Curtain Goes Up, Vancouver Presents contributor David C Jones speaks with members of the company of The How and The Why to find out more.

The How and The Why plays at the Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam) from April 11-15. Visit evergreenculturalcentre.ca for tickets and information.

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